By Richie Murray
Meeker, Oklahoma (July 15, 2020)………The state of Oklahoma has proven itself as a breeding ground for some of best racing talent in the nation over the past several years.
On the same token, Oklahoma’s Red Dirt Raceway has proven itself as a showcase of some of the top USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget races we’ve seen, and it’s where the series makes its third visit to the Meeker, Okla. quarter-mile dirt track for Tuesday Night Thunder on July 21.
Take last year’s Red Dirt A-main for example, which featured an astonishing seven lead changes among six different drivers, which alone tells you how epic this racy joint can be.
Now, though the red dirt covers new territory this year for the series, the state of Oklahoma itself does not. Two events were held back in May at Tulsa’s Port City Raceway, the first night of which was captured by defending series champion Tyler Courtney (Indianapolis, Ind.).
Courtney finished 10th at Red Dirt in 2018 but led early and often in 2019 for a total of eight laps. He was leading when mechanical trouble befell him 13 laps from the finish, relegating the pole sitter to an unrepresentative 16th place result.
Oklahoma serves as a homecoming of sorts for many drivers in the lineup, including Broken Arrow’s Jason McDougal who took 7th during his first shot in 2018. In 2019, he led the first eight laps of the feature, and nine total, before becoming involved in a three-car flip that also involved two more flippers joining in on the fray.
Among the tumblers was Tyler Thomas (Collinsville, Okla.), who finished 10th in 2019 after returning from the incident. He also won his heat race in back-to-back years at Red Dirt in 2018 and 2019.
Ninth in points is series Rookie Daison Pursley (Locust Grove, Okla.) who’ll make his Red Dirt debut with USAC on Tuesday night. His Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports teammate, fellow Rookie Kaylee Bryson (Muskogee, Okla.), turned some heads during June’s Indiana Midget Week with a 10th at Gas City and a career-best 7th at Lawrenceburg.
Also in the KKM stable is Bixby, Oklahoma’s Cannon McIntosh, fifth in the standings, who made his first career USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget feature start at Red Dirt in 2018, finishing 18th in the family car. Also making his first career USAC start in that very same race, taking 21st was Rossville, Indiana’s Cole Bodine, 8th in the standings.
Sixth in the standings is 2019 USAC National Most Improved Driver Tanner Carrick (Lincoln, Calif.), who recently won a wild winged 360 sprint car feature at California’s Marysville Raceway last Wednesday night. In the Midget at Red Dirt, he has been banging on the door for a win. He led one lap early en route to a 3rd place finish in 2018 after earlier winning the semi. In 2019, he led one circuit again with 11 to go before contact provided him a flat left rear tire and, ultimately, a 12th place finish.
Jerry Coons Jr. (Tucson, Ariz.) took over for the lead for four laps following Carrick’s misfortune, topping the field until seven laps remaining before finishing fourth for the second consecutive year at Red Dirt after finishing in the same position in 2018.
Series point leader Chris Windom led the 18th lap of last year’s Red Dirt feature amidst a flurry of activity that saw four different leaders in four laps just past the halfway mark. Windom wound up finishing third while his current car owner, Chad Boat, won his heat and finished 7th behind the wheel.
The three-time 2020 USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget winner who stands fourth in points, Tanner Thorson, (Minden, Nev.) finished eighth at Red Dirt in 2019. He has tasted Oklahoma success already this year with a prelim night victory back in January at the Chili Bowl Midget Nationals in Tulsa.
Buddy Kofoid, the impressive Rookie who’s second in points coming in, has only finished outside the top-10 once in his 11 series starts this season, that coming on the first night of T-Town Midget Showdown in Tulsa, Okla. He’s surrounding the possibility of a first career USAC Midget feature win with podium finishes in two of his last three starts, a 3rd at Lincoln Park and 2nd at Lawrenceburg.
In the 13 previous USAC National Midget races held in the state of Oklahoma, only one driver has become a multi-time winner, that being 1963 champ Bob Wente. The two winners at Red Dirt over the past two years include, ironically, the last two drivers to win the championship in their Rookie years, 2013 series champion and Oklahoma native Christopher Bell was victorious in 2018 while Logan Seavey won in 2019, a year following his 2018 series title.
At Red Dirt, the gates open at 5pm CT with qualifying at 7pm and racing to immediately follow. The NOW600 Non-Wing Micros are also on the event card.
Tickets are on sale at https://market.myracepass.com/store/tickets/?i=1198638&store=17687. Adult general admission tickets are $25. High school students and younger are $5 (must show student ID). Kids age 5 and under are free. The tailgate area is $120 per carload (limit 8 and they must be in the vehicle and only one ice chest per vehicle). Pit passes are $35 for adults, and $10 for children age 5 and younger.
The event is part of blockbuster stretch of four USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget races in a five-day span across three states: July 17-18 at Jefferson County Speedway in Fairbury, Neb., July 19 at Caney Valley Speedway in Caney, Kans. and July 21 at Red Dirt Raceway in Meeker, Okla. All four of these events can be seen LIVE exclusively on FloRacing at https://bit.ly/3frPoW6.
NEW USAC NOS ENERGY DRINK MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Chris Windom-738, 2-Buddy Kofoid-674, 3-Tyler Courtney-667, 4-Tanner Thorson-664, 5-Cannon McIntosh-580, 6-Tanner Carrick-545, 7-Justin Grant-489, 8-Cole Bodine-462, 9-Daison Pursley-455, 10-Kevin Thomas Jr.-441.
PAST RED DIRT RACEWAY USAC NATIONAL MIDGET RESULTS:
2018 FEATURE: (30 laps, starting position in parentheses) 1. Christopher Bell (6), 2. Logan Seavey (5), 3. Tanner Carrick (7), 4. Jerry Coons, Jr. (10), 5. Brady Bacon (3), 6. Justin Grant (4), 7. Jason McDougal (11), 8. Kevin Thomas, Jr. (14), 9. Spencer Bayston (18), 10. Tyler Courtney (2), 11. Chad Boat (19), 12. Holly Shelton (15), 13. Ryan Robinson (1), 14. Tucker Klaasmeyer (21), 15. Tyler Thomas (17), 16. Brayton Lynch (24), 17. Jonathan Beason (9), 18. Cannon McIntosh (20), 19. Zane Hendricks (8), 20. Kyle Craker (16), 21. Cole Bodine (23), 22. Ace McCarthy (12), 23. Maria Cofer (22), 24. Dave Darland (13). NT
2019 FEATURE: (30 laps, starting position in parentheses) 1. Logan Seavey (9), 2. Zeb Wise (7), 3. Chris Windom (11), 4. Jerry Coons, Jr. (15), 5. Jonathan Beason (17), 6. Matt Sherrell (16), 7. Chad Boat (13), 8. Tanner Thorson (3), 9. Tucker Klaasmeyer (10), 10. Tyler Thomas (19), 11. Jesse Colwell (14), 12. Tanner Carrick (6), 13. Shannon McQueen (18), 14. Hank Davis (22), 15. Robert Dalby (21), 16. Tyler Courtney (1), 17. Jason McDougal (2), 18. Kevin Thomas, Jr. (5), 19. Andrew Deal (20), 20. Holley Hollan (12), 21. Cannon McIntosh (4), 22. Zane Hendricks (8). NT
USAC NATIONAL MIDGET WINS IN OKLAHOMA:
1-Christopher Bell, Jimmy Caruthers, Jimmy Davies, John Batts, Justin Grant, Lloyd Ruby, Logan Seavey, Roger West, Sleepy Tripp, Steve Cannon & Tyler Courtney