MCCOOL JUNCTION, Neb. (July 29, 2011)—Brad Kuhn passed Austin Brown on a restart for the lead and held it for the final 16 laps to win the opening round of the seventh annual Cornhusker Midget Challenge in a POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget Series race Friday night at Junction Motor Speedway.
Kuhn’s victory was his third in the past five POWRi features and tied him for the season lead with Brad Loyet. It also locked the 30-year-old from Avon, Ind., into the top-four starting positions for tonight’s (Saturday, July 30) feature in the concluding round of the Cornhusker that pays $10,000 to win. Kuhn earned $3,000 for Friday’s victory.
Loyet went from fifth to finish second following a restart with two laps remaining, Brown was third and Jerry Coons Jr. was fourth. They’ll race in a dash to determine the top-four starting positions of tonight’s feature.
Brown, of Millstadt, Ill., started on the outside of the front row of the 25-lap feature on the fast 3/8-mile track and led the opening nine laps. He had a half-straightaway lead over Kuhn, who lined up on the outside of the fourth row and moved into second place on the seventh lap, when the first caution came out.
Kuhn dived to the inside in Turn One on the lap 10 restart and his Fontana-powered Beast made slight contact with Brown’s Spike-Esslinger taking the lead exiting Turn Two.
“He (Brown) was doing a good job out front when he was by himself and I was a little surprised because he doesn’t have much big track experience,” Kuhn said. “I was catching him, but not enough. I knew I was better on restarts. He didn’t block the bottom and left it wide open.
“It’s always nice to be locked into the feature and not have to go through the heat races and take the chance of getting stuff tore up.”
Loyet started on the inside of the second row and ran fourth and fifth for 23 laps. The two-time POWRi Midget champion from Sunset Hills, Mo., was fifth for the final restart on lap 24. He passed two cars in Turns One and Two and a third in Turns Three and Four.
“I wanted to get into the top four and be locked in for Saturday,” Loyet said. “I had a good car, but I made some mistakes and ran the wrong line and was back in fifth. I saw the top four running in a single line on the restart and had to try to make a move. I drove it into the middle of the track in Turn One and it stuck enough to get me up to second. I’m very happy with that move and finishing second.”
Brown had been running an outside-in line in Turn One and it created the opportunity for Kuhn to pass him for the lead.
“I knew it was going to take a couple of laps to get going,” Brown said. “I had a diamond line in Turn One and Brad stuck his nose in and it stuck. First or second would be better, but I’m happy with it.”
Coons, of Tucson, Ariz., was fourth for the final restart.
“That’s the big thing, to be locked into the feature Saturday,” Coons said. “I would have liked to finish higher. I got going late. On the final restart, the cars stacked up and I went back to sixth and got back up to fourth.”
The Cornhusker Midget Challenge’s two events are the second and third of the Speedway Motors Money Midget Week presented by RevHoney Energy Drinks. The fourth and final event is Sunday (July 31) at U.S. 36 Raceway in Cameron, Mo. Money Midget Week began Thursday at Solomon Valley Raceway with the second Chad McDaniel Memorial, which ran heats and a semi before rain forced the feature to be canceled. Purse money in excess of $100,000 will be paid for the four events.
POWRi is co-sanctioning the four events with Badger Midgets, Rocky Mountain Midgets and Southern Open Wheel Series and the purses are expected to attract drivers from additional prominent series. Bryan Clauson, the National Midget Driver of the Year the past two seasons, will drive on tonight (Saturday) at Junction Motor Speedway and Sunday at U.S. 36. He won both races in the Speedway Motors Midget Money Week last year.
POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget Series results: 1. Brad Kuhn, 2. Brad Loyet, 3. Austin Brown, 4. Jerry Coons Jr., 5. Mario Clouser, 6. Don Droud Jr., 7. Levi Roberts, 8. Brett Anderson, 9. Jake Blackhurst, 10 Nick Knepper, 11. Chris DeShon, 12. Keith Rauch, 13. Cody Brewer, 14. Garrett Hood, 15. Tim Siner, 16. John Campbell, 17. Kyle Neal, 18. C.J. Johnson, 19. Tyler Thomas, 20. Terry Goodwin, 21. Mike Boesel, 22. Kent Schmidt, 23. Steve Buckwalter, 24. Andrew Felker, 25. Chett Gehrke.