DuQUOIN, Ill. (Aug. 31, 2017) — Minden, Nevada’s Tanner Thorson is no stranger to dirt track racing, but the “Magic Mile” at the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds will be a first for the defending USAC National Midget Series champion.
“I’ve ran on the little indoor track next door but I’ve never run anything there on the mile,” said Thorson.
With excitement building for the 64th running of the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards General Tire GRABBER-Southern Illinois 100 coming this Labor Day Monday, Thorson has got to clear Calistoga (Calif.) Speedway first.
“We’re just heading over to California now. We drove from Indiana…left on Monday. We’ve got Rico Abreu’s sprint car trailer we’re taking out. He’s running both nights in a midget and a sprint car. I’m just running a midget Saturday night.”
And of course there’s a reason Thorson isn’t staying over at Calistoga for the double-header. The 21-year-old champion driver needs Sunday for a travel day so he can be there early Monday morning when the gates at DuQuoin swing open at the crack of dawn. Thorson is entered in the No. 15 Venturini Motorsports Toyota, the same machine that Christian Eckes wheeled to a sixth-place finish on the Springfield Mile Dirt two weeks ago.
Going from a thousand-lb. Midget to 3,300-lb. stock car will no easy transition.“Biggest thing is braking. They just don’t work as good as they do in a Midget or a Sprint Car due to how much weight is behind you in the ARCA car. That’s the biggest thing for me…knowing my braking points in the ARCA car. It’s the same thing with the throttle…knowing when you gotta get out of the gas, let the car roll in. You can’t thrash an ARCA car like a Midget. You have to drive it straight in. If you’re a little hung out coming off the corner, that’s fine, but you gotta go in straight or the car will come out from under you.”
Thorson ran the Springfield mile last year and was in contention before the car began overheating.
“I think we’ll be really good at DuQuoin. We were really good at Springfield last year…we just had some overheating issues. But I know the Venturinis have worked hard on it…keeping the cars cooler. I’m looking forward to it. I think we’ll be really good come Monday.”
In addition to earning the 2016 USAC Nat’l Midget title, Thorson was the 2016 National Midget Driver of the Year. Thorson also finished an ARCA career-best 10th earlier this year at Madison Int’l Speedway after leading 27 laps.
“We had a great run the last time out at Madison. I learned a ton and led some laps…it was a huge confidence booster.
“The biggest difference this week will be keeping the car down on the inside groove. If we can work on our braking we should have great results. I’m really excited. Can’t thank Toyota and everyone else for giving me this opportunity. Nothing would be sweeter than parking it in victory lane.”
The past winners list of the General Tire GRABBER-Southern Illinois 100 includes some of the most widely-recognized names in American motorsports. Jay Frank won the inaugural Southern Illinois 100 in 1950. Just some of the winners who would follow include Marshall Teague, Indy 500 winners Jimmy Bryan and AJ Foyt, Fred Lorenzen, Don White, Norm Nelson, Jack Bowsher, NASCAR champions Rusty Wallace and Tony Stewart, Bob Keselowski, Billy Thomas, Ken Schrader, Parker Kligerman, Chris Buescher and Grant Enfinger.
Raceday Schedule/Media Coverage
The 64th running of the General Tire GRABBER-Southern Illinois 100 is scheduled to get the green flag at approximately 3 p.m. local Central time. Practice is from 10:45-11:45 a.m., with General Tire Pole Qualifying at 12:30 p.m.
ARCAracing.com will feature live audio coverage of all on-track activities including flag-to-flag coverage of the General Tire GRABBER-Southern Illinois 100. Live timing and scoring of all on-track activities and live chat will also be available throughout the afternoon at arcaracing.com.