By Richie Murray
Gas City, Indiana (September 21, 2020)……….The USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship has made Gas City I-69 Speedway an annual visit each year over the past decade-and-a-half.
This Friday night, September 25, will mark the first time the series has made multiple visits to the quarter-mile dirt oval within the same season as part of the James Dean Classic, night one of the Indiana Donor Network Driven2SaveLives Double Double in a doubleheader with the USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship.
This past June witnessed a memorable come-from-behind victory for Kyle Larson at Gas City after starting 14th. However, several highly touted individuals will be eying similar success in the series’ 14th appearance at the track this weekend.
Chris Windom (Canton, Ill.) holds a 34-point lead in the Midget standings entering Friday’s event. June’s race was, for him, one of only three times he’s finished outside the top-ten in 19 series starts this year. With that said, he comes into the race having finished 2nd and 3rd in his two most recent series starts. In his USAC Midget career at Gas City, he’s taken 9th in 2012 and 2018, plus an 8th in 2011. He won a USAC National Sprint race at GC in late September of 2019.
Tyler Courtney (Indianapolis, Ind.) is the driver who follows Windom the closest in the points coming into Gas City. He took 3rd back in June after leading the first 17 laps of the 30-lap feature. He was also 6th in a midget at Gas City in 2018. Gas City is the home of Courtney’s first career USAC National feature win, taking the victory in spectacular fashion during 2016 Indiana Sprint Week after spinning on the opening lap, then driving past the entire field to score the improbable win.
One of Buddy Kofoid’s four runner-up finishes with the series this season came at Gas City in June. The Penngrove, Calif. driver’s last time out with the series produced his first career USAC victory on Sept. 5 at Missouri’s Sweet Springs Motorsports Complex. Standing third in the overall series points, he leads the Rookie standings by a commanding 266-point margin. Also, of note, in his three USAC Sprint appearances at Kokomo, he’s finished in the top-five of all three.
Kofoid’s Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports teammate, Cannon McIntosh (Bixby, Okla.), finished as the runner-up at Gas City in the 2019 USAC National Midget race. He just recently captured his first win of the 2020 USAC season on Sept. 4 at Sweet Springs, second overall, and is fifth in the standings coming in.
Brady Bacon (Broken Arrow, Okla.) is stepping into the role as the new driver of the Hayward Motorsports No. 19 after the team and driver Tanner Thorson parted ways last week. With Thorson at the wheel, the ride won four times this season and finished 4th in June at Gas City. Bacon finished 2nd in a USAC Midget stop at Gas City in 2017 and was 7th in 2016. In USAC Sprint Car competition, Bacon was victorious at Gas City in early 2015.
Tanner Carrick (Lincoln, Calif.), sixth in points, has finished inside the top-ten in all three of his previous Gas City USAC Midget feature starts. The 2019 USAC National Most Improved Driver was 10th in 2017, 8th in 2019 and 9th back in June of 2020.
Justin Grant (Ione, Calif.) is a previous USAC National Midget feature winner at Gas City, capturing the Indiana Midget Week round in 2019. The 2007 BCRA Midget champion was also 4th at Gas City in 2015. His successes earlier this year in a USAC National Sprint Car have been tantamount with a fast qualifying effort and a 3rd place finish to his credit.
The 2018 USAC National Midget driving champion, Logan Seavey (Sutter, Calif.), was the winner of the Indiana Sprint Week round at Gas City back in July, thriving in a wild last lap battle with Kevin Thomas Jr. during Indiana Sprint Week. Seavey recorded the fastest qualifying lap in time trials for Indiana Midget Week in June before finishing 7th in the feature. He is one of several drivers expected to perform double-duty in both the Midget and Sprint Car this weekend.
Cole Bodine (Rossville, Ind.) is seeking a third career USAC National Midget feature start at Gas City while Kaylee Bryson (Muskogee, Okla.), Daison Pursley (Locust Grove, Okla.) and Andrew Layser (Collegeville, Ind.) are all after their second career Gas City USAC Midget starts. Bryson, a recent fast qualifier at Sweet Springs, recorded her first career top-ten with USAC at Gas City this past June.
A Gas City track championship team is geared up to take on the course with the RMS Racing midget team. Clinton Boyles (Greenwood, Mo.) and Thomas Meseraull (San Jose, Calif.) have each won the past two Gas City Sprint Car track championships – Boyles in 2018 and Meseraull in 2019. Both have finished inside the top-five in USAC Midget competition this year.
Kyle Cummins (Princeton, Ind.) has been a solid citizen in just a handful of USAC Midget starts this season, though he missed the transfer at Gas City in June, but has since recorded a top-five finish with the series. Three times a USAC Sprint winner in 2020, Cummins finished 4th during Indiana Sprint Week at Gas City this past July.
USAC Midwest Regional Midget point leader Emerson Axsom (Franklin, Ind.) has had his share of success on Hoosier soil in 2020 with local victories at both Lincoln Park Speedway and Paragon Speedway. His first Gas City appearance, however, awaits this Friday for the driver who has finished inside the top-five twice on the National level this year.
There are no limits on the number of entries for the event. Pit gates open Friday for Gas City at 3pm ET, front gates at 5pm, drivers meeting at and hot laps at 6:30pm. Adult general admission tickets are $25 for adults and free for kids age 12 and under. Pit passes are $35 apiece. Tickets can be purchased in advance at www.usactickets.com as well as at the gate on raceday.
Both nights of this weekend’s Double Double can be watched LIVE on FloRacing at https://bit.ly/2Zs7zFP.
USAC NOS ENERGY DRINK MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Chris Windom-1,268, 2-Tyler Courtney-1,234, 3-Buddy Kofoid-1,167, 4-Tanner Thorson-1,163, 5-Cannon McIntosh-1,069, 6-Tanner Carrick-956, 7-Daison Pursley-901, 8-Cole Bodine-779, 9-Andrew Layser-764, 10-Justin Grant-680.
USAC NATIONAL MIDGET WINS AT GAS CITY I-69 SPEEDWAY:
2-Shane Cottle, Darren Hagen & Kyle Larson
1-Spencer Bayston, Steve Buckwalter, Jerry Coons Jr., Justin Grant, Brad Kuhn, Michael Pickens, Davey Ray & Tanner Thorson
USAC NATIONAL MIDGET WINNERS AT GAS CITY I-69 SPEEDWAY:
2005: Davey Ray (8/19)
2006: Shane Cottle (8/18)
2007: Shane Cottle (8/10)
2008: Brad Kuhn (8/6)
2009: Jerry Coons Jr. (6/10)
2010: Steve Buckwalter (6/16)
2011: Darren Hagen (6/8)
2012: Darren Hagen (6/13)
2013: Kyle Larson (6/12)
2015: Tanner Thorson (6/10)
2016: Spencer Bayston (6/1)
2017: Michael Pickens (6/7)
2019: Justin Grant (6/5)
2020: Kyle Larson (6/17)