By Tim Tuttle
MCCOOL JUNCTION, Neb. (July 30, 2011)—Brad Kuhn led all 35 laps to win the finale of the seventh annual Cornhusker Midget Challenge and earned $10,000—the biggest paycheck of his career–in a POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget Series race Saturday night at Junction Motor Speedway.
“It feels really good,” Kuhn said. “Every time there is big money on the line, we run second, third, fourth and have bad luck. We didn’t tonight.”
The 30-year-old from Avon, Ind., swept the two features in the Cornhusker, the second and third rounds of the Speedway Motors Money Midget Week presented by RevHoney Energy Drinks. He earned $3,000 on Friday. Kuhn’s previous largest payday had been $5,000 for winning the Cornhusker in 2009.
Kuhn’s victory was his fourth in the past six POWRi features, the most in the series this season.
Kuhn even had a little luck Saturday. The victory Friday locked him into a top-four starting position and he won the draw to start the RW Motorsports’ Fontana-powered Beast on pole.
“We made the right choice on tires and the car was locked down perfect,” Kuhn said. “I ran one lap on the bottom, then took it up top. We live and die on the top and we win or lose as a team.”
Jerry Coons Jr. challenged Kuhn for two consecutive laps in Turn One following a restart on lap 22, getting inside and almost side-by-side.
“Jerry kept us honest,” Kuhn said. “He made me get on the hammer again.”
Coons finished second, four car lengths back, to earn $5,000.
“I kind of got inside him and was going to try to do a slide job, but Brad was fast,” the driver from Tucson,, Ariz., said. “We had a great car, but we just got beat by a better car. There was a fine line between running a perfect line and being a little off.”
Coons started third, passed Brad Loyet for second on the seventh lap exiting Turn Two and stayed second to the checkered flag.
Bryan Clauson finished third, earning $2,500, despite running the entire race on the fast 3/8-mile track without brakes. They failed on the parade lap. Clauson started ninth, on the inside of the fifth row in the 24-car field. Running fifth, the 2009 and 2010 National Midget Driver of the Year from Noblesville, Ind., passed Loyet and Kyle Larson on the second and last restart on lap 22.
“I was working the bottom on restarts and Loyet and Larson were up doing slide jobs on each other,” Clauson said. “Without brakes, the first lap on a restart was the best chance I had to pass. It was hard once you got going fast and had momentum on a big track like this.
“Once we got going, I had to get in the train. Jerry was three or four (car lengths) back of Brad and I was three or four back of Jerry.”
Clauson had to be patient getting to the lead group.
“I had to pick and chose where I went,” he said. “I had to be a little more cautious and couldn’t be as aggressive without brakes. I played the hand I was dealt and played it into a podium.”
Larson, of Elk Grove, Calif.., finished fourth and Loyet, of Sunset Hills, Mo., was fifth.
The fourth and final event of Money Midget Week is tonight (July 31) at U.S. 36 Raceway in Cameron, Mo. It 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.
POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget Series results: 1. Brad Kuhn, 2. Jerry Coons Jr., 3. Bryan Clauson, 4. Kyle Larson, 5. Brad Loyet, 6. Austin Brown, 7. Davey Ray, 8. Caleb Armstrong, 9. Jake Blackhurst, 10. Mario Clouser, 11. C.J. Johnson, 12. Ryan Criswell, 13. Chris DeShon, 14. Zach Daum, 15. Cody Brewer, 16. Kyle Neal, 17. Tony Rossi, 18. Levi Roberts, 19. Terry Goodwin, 20. Julee Jamison, 21. Chett Gehrke, 22. Steve Buckwalter, 23. Nick Knepper, 24. Tyler Thomas.