From Richie Murray
West Memphis, AR — (June 17, 2016) — On a hot muggy night in West Memphis, Tanner Thorson became the first repeat winner of the 2016 USAC Midget National Championship season, using a sensational turn three slide job on lap 11 to scoot past Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports teammate Carson Macedo, which proved to be the winning move, taking the win in the series’ first ever visit to the state of Arkansas Friday night at Riverside International Speedway.
At the start of the 30-lap main event, outside front row starter Chad Boat took the first step forward, sliding across the nose of pole-sitter Carson Macedo to the lead at the entry of turn one.
Series rookie Macedo would fight back, inciting a barrage of sliders with Boat throughout the first couple of circuits that each culminated with Macedo leading at the stripe.
On the third lap, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., running fourth, got an enormous run off the turn two banking. As he attempted to split the gap between the cars of Boat and Macedo, the gap quickly closed. Stenhouse ramped over the left rear tire of Boat, sending himself into a mid-air 180-degree spin, launching him off the gumbo surface like an over-inflated basketball before smacking the back of the rollcage against the track, bouncing completely over once, and then slapping the sidewalls of his right side tires off the ground which propped him up on all fours as he stayed on the gas and drove away.
The amazing, spectacular, highlight-reel save by Stenhouse resulted in a red flag. Despite Stenhouse’s ability to initially drive the car away from the scene, Stenhouse’s Bryan Clauson Racing mount received a myriad of mechanical issues that came about due to the incident including a broken shock, radius rod, and a bent axle. Stenhouse was unable to continue, ending his return to his home track located just 30 miles northwest across the Mississippi River from his native Olive Branch, Mississippi.
Fifth-running Bryan Clauson’s trying night came to an abrupt end, pulling into the infield on the eighth lap and having to settle for a disappointing 15th place result. This came after Clauson’s RKR/Dooling team thrashed to replace the rear-end of the number 63 just prior to the feature.
By the 11th lap, ProSource Fast Qualifier and fifth-place starter Thorson had reeled in race leader Macedo. With Macedo set up high at the entrance to turn three, Thorson throttled to the bottom in a daring move that allowed him to slide up in front of his teammate as Macedo got squirrelly and lost substantial ground to the flying Thorson.
Thorson was on a rail, on a one-way track and never looking back as he posted the fastest lap of the race one circuit later on the 12th lap. With less than ten to go, Thorson had extended his advantage to a full-straightaway over second-place Macedo.
At the checkered, Thorson had delivered a proverbial spanking to the rest of the field, winning by nearly five seconds and lapping all but the top-eight finishers: Macedo, Boat, Bayston, Brady Bacon, Ryan Greth, KSE Hard Charger Shane Golobic and Ryan Robinson.
It was Minden, Nevada native Thorson’s sixth career USAC National Midget victory and his second in the series’ first seven races of the 2016 season in his Keith Kunz – Curb-Agajanian Motorsports/TRD – JBL Audio/Bullet/Speedway Toyota.
“These guys work their butts off,” Thorson praised. “That was breathtaking. The track was awesome. It was racy and you could move around. The slide jobs were a lot of fun and you could run the bottom down in turns one and two to sneak by some guys. I could put my car anywhere I wanted all night and it’s just a testament to Keith, Pete (Willoughby), Big Al (Scroggins) and the rest of these guys for all their hard work.”
Lemoore, California’s Carson Macedo led the first 10 laps of his USAC National Midget career on his way to earning a series’ career-best second place finish in his Keith Kunz – Curb-Agajanian Motorsports/TRD – Tarlton & Son/Bullet/Speedway Toyota
“This team puts great cars underneath all of us,” Macedo said. “I felt like I was good enough to win; I just spent too much time up top. I didn’t know Tanner was so good down on the bottom and then he got by me, so then I could see where he was running. Being a rookie in the midget, everywhere we go is new to me, so it’s nice to come back and use what we learned tonight. We’ll try to do that tomorrow. I know I’ll have a good car under me, so it’s up to me.”
Chad Boat, of Phoenix, Arizona, had yet another solid run in his Tucker-Boat Motorsports/PristineAuction.com – K & C Drywall/Spike/Speedway Toyota, finishing in the third spot for the second straight series race.
“We’ll take a third tonight,” Boat contented. “Tanner was just a little better than us tonight, but it’s two thirds in a row, so we’re building momentum. It was a decent night for us; it just kind of felt like we were missing something all night. But we’ll work on it and come back tomorrow and go for the dub.”
Contingency award winners at Riverside International Speedway included Tanner Thorson (ProSource Fast Qualifier), Ryan Robinson (Simpson Race Products/Competition Suspension, Inc. (CSI) First Heat Race Winner), Carson Macedo (Benic Enterprises/Indy Race Parts Second Heat Race Winner), Shane Golobic (KSE Racing Products Hard Charger) and Cody Brewer (Wilwood Brakes 13th Place Finisher).
USAC MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: June 17, 2016 – West Memphis, Arkansas – Riverside International Speedway
PROSOURCE QUALIFYING: 1. Tanner Thorson, 67, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-13.508; 2. Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., 17, Clauson-13.767; 3. Spencer Bayston, 97, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-13.767; 4. Bryan Clauson, 63, RKR/Dooling-13.794; 5. Chad Boat, 84, Tucker/Boat-13.807; 6. Carson Macedo, 71K, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-13.831; 7. Brady Bacon, 76m, FMR-13.884; 8. Ryan Greth, 4, Lesher-13.893; 9. Ryan Robinson, 71, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-13.914; 10. Holly Shelton, 67K, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-13.914; 11. Matt Sherrell, 35, Sherrell-14.110; 12. Zach Daum, 5D, Daum-14.127; 13. Cody Brewer, 96, Central-14.195; 14. Kyle Jones, 54, Hefler-14.285; 15. Nick Bailey, 89, Bailey; 14.300; 16. Shane Golobic, 17w, Wood-14.319; 17. Gage Walker, 7, Walker-14.497.
SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS/COMPETITION SUSPENSION (CSI) FIRST HEAT: (10
laps) 1. Robinson, 2. Thorson, 3. Sherrell, 4. Boat, 5. Bayston, 6. Bacon, 7. Brewer, 8. Walker, 9. Bailey. NT
BENIC ENTERPRISES/INDY RACE PARTS SECOND HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Macedo, 2. Daum, 3. Clauson, 4. Shelton, 5. Greth, 6. Stenhouse, 7. Golobic, 8. Jones. 2:23.15
FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Tanner Thorson, 2. Carson Macedo, 3. Chad Boat, 4. Spencer Bayston, 5. Brady Bacon, 6. Ryan Greth, 7. Shane Golobic, 8. Ryan Robinson, 9. Zach Daum, 10. Gage Walker, 11. Holly Shelton, 12. Matt Sherrell, 13. Cody Brewer, 14. Kyle Jones, 15. Bryan Clauson, 16. Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., 17. Nick Bailey. NT
**Stenhouse flipped on lap 3 of the feature.
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-10 Macedo, Laps 11-30 Thorson.
KSE RACING PRODUCTS HARD CHARGER: Shane Golobic (16th to 7th)
NEW USAC MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Bayston-455, 2-Clauson-427, 3-Bacon-417, 4-Thorson-393, 5-Boat-382, 6-Golobic-343, 7-Macedo-312, 8-Daum-301, 9-Tyler Thomas-275, 10-Robinson-266.
NEXT USAC MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE: June 18 – West Memphis, Arkansas – Riverside International Speedway – “40 for Shorty”