KOKOMO – Some friends and I went to Kokomo Speedway Sunday for the final night of Indiana Midget Week.

If you’re not a sprint car racing fan, or are just unfamiliar with midget week, it’s a week-long tour of the state in which teams raced at six different tracks – Montpelier, Gas City, Lincoln Park, Bloomington, Lawrenceburg and Kokomo.

(If you’re reading this and you don’t know what midget cars are, they’re smaller sprint cars, and they are wildly popular.)

Points are tallied for the week by the United States Auto Club and a championship is awarded. It’s like a season within a season, and winning the Indiana Midget Week title is a pretty prestigious thing in the dirt racing world.

Kyle Larson, who still races at dirt tracks in between his NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series duties with Chip Ganassi Racing, opened the week with a win at Montpelier.

Alabama native Kevin Thomas Jr. won the finale at Kokomo, and Lebanon, Indiana’s Spencer Bayston won the championship.

On my way home from Kokomo Speedway Sunday night – or more accurately Monday morning, as I got home at 1 a.m. and was at the office by 7:30 a.m. – and throughout this week a lot of thoughts were racing through my mind.

Here are a few of them:

Kokomo Speedway – The place is only a little over an hour away from Warsaw, and I think sometimes it’s taken for granted.

Albert Miller and John Rose opened Kokomo Speedway in 1947, and while the track has had a number of owners it has become one of the most popular dirt tracks in the country.

The racing is second-to-none, with plenty of passing. Sunday’s midget week finale, as well as the sprint car A-main, was no exception.

Bryan Clauson, who died in a crash while racing in the Belleville Midget Nationals in Kansas in 2016, referred to Kokomo Speedway as his “house of worship.”

That’s pretty high praise from a guy who was considered by many to be the best dirt track racer in the country, and who at 27 was well on his way to breaking a number of USAC records before his death.

Clauson was posthumously inducted into the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame last weekend in Knoxville, Iowa.

So yeah, when a hall of famer with Clauson’s credentials refers to Kokomo Speedway as his “house of worship” it means something.

There’s plenty more events on the 2018 Kokomo Speedway schedule, and I recommend checking one .... or all of them ... out.

Among the bigger races, the track will host an Indiana Sprint Week event on July 21, its four-day Sprint Car Smackdown from Aug. 15-18, and the All-Stars Circuit of Champions on Oct. 6.

The Sprint Car Smackdown is a must-see, in my opinion. It’s the biggest non-wing sprint car show in the world. Last year, fans from 30-plus states and multiple countries made their way to Kokomo Speedway.

The Schedule Is Heating Up: It’s June, and the racing is about to get as hot as last week’s 90-degree temperatures.

With Indiana Midget Week now behind us, some notable races coming up include Ohio Sprint Speedweek (which runs from June 15-23), the All-Stars Circuit of Champions at Plymouth Speedway on June 29, the Kings Royal at Eldora Speedway on July 12-13-14, Indiana Sprint Week July 20-28, the Knoxville Nationals Aug. 7-11, and the aforementioned Sprint Car Smackdown.

We’re blessed with some great dirt track racing here in the midwest, and I’m looking forward to some summer nights with friends at a track somewhere, with dirt and the smell of racing fuel in the air, and of course some of those Kokomo Speedway pork chop sandwiches.

Dave Darland In The Stands: My friends and I spotted Dave Darland, known as The People’s Champ, sitting in the stands at Kokomo Speedway Sunday night.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad he was at the track ... I was just a little bummed he wasn’t racing.

Darland, who was inducted into the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in 2017, is still pretty good at his craft and just so happens to be the winningest driver in USAC National Sprint Car history.

I saw on social media, Darland’s wife Brenda tweeted that Dave didn’t have a ride for the sprint car race at Kokomo. I knew he wasn’t competing for the midget week title, but the fact nobody had a sprint car seat open for Dave Darland at Kokomo blew me away. If you don’t understand what I’m trying to say, imagine NASCAR fans a few years back if Dale Earnhardt Jr. would have been just sitting in the stands at, say, Talladega, where he was known to dominate races.

Seeing Darland in the stands was like a fast-forward moment. He’ll be 52 years old in Sept. and I know he’s not going to race forever, but my friends and I just weren’t ready to see him in the stands as a fan yet.

Paul Hazen: The Columbia City native has deep roots in sprint car racing, and why he’s still not in the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame is a mystery to me.

Hazen broke into the industry in 1957 as a driver, and has since been a car owner for some big-name drivers, including hall of famer Tony Elliott.

My friends and I stopped to say hi to Hazen and his crew while we were walking through the pits at Kokomo Speedway. Hazen is a legend in the sprint car world, and I hope someday his face is on a plaque in Knoxville, Iowa.