Kahne Set For Turkey Night

NASCAR Sprint Cup driver and Team Mopar team owner/driver Kasey Kahne will return to his roots on Thursday for the 68th annual "Turkey Night Grand Prix" at Toyota Speedway/Irwindale.

Kahne will steer a Mopar-powered Seymour Paints entry for his Kasey Kahne Racing squad in the event sanctioned by the United States Auto Club (USAC) as part of the Mopar Midget National Championship.

Last autumn, driving the very same machine, Kahne thrilled the Irwindale crowd by charging to second place after a dismal 25th-place qualifying effort. What makes such come-from-behind charges possible is the event’s extra-distance format. Rather than the common Midget feature length of 30 or 35 laps, the “Turkey Night Grand Prix” covers 98 laps in honor of the late promoter and car owner J.C. Agajanian, whose two-time Indy 500-winning entries bore the number 98.

The “Turkey Night Grand Prix” is one of America’s most renowned short-track races. Its former champions include legends like A.J. Foyt, Parnelli Jones, Gary Bettenhausen and Mel Kenyon, and more recently Tony Stewart, Jason Leffler and defending champ Dave Darland. Kahne hopes to add his name to that estimable group, and past history would seem to mark him as a solid bet. Although he has only raced sparingly at Irwindale, Kahne has put together an enviable record at the half-mile located some 20 miles east of Los Angeles.

In just five “Turkey Night” outings, Kahne has been the runner-up three times. And his Irwindale successes haven’t been limited to “Turkey Night,” since he won USAC Western Sprint Car features there in both the 2001 and ’02 seasons, and captured a USAC Western States Midget event in 2001.

NASCAR Nationwide drivers Jason Leffler and Bryan Clauson are also expected to compete in the event.

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