By Richie Murray
Bakersfield, California (November 16, 2020)………Three drivers – Chris Windom, Tyler Courtney and Tanner Thorson – will fight it out for the right to earn the coveted title of 2020 USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget champion this Tuesday night, November 17, in the NOS Energy Drink November Classic at California’s Bakersfield Speedway.
The three drivers are separated by a scant margin with Windom at the top of the standings by 11 over Courtney and Thorson 32 behind. Each has previously celebrated a USAC National championship in his career with Windom taking Silver Crown (2016) and AMSOIL National Sprint Car (2017) titles, Courtney the 2018 Sprint and 2019 Midget, and Thorson with the Midgets in 2016.
For all intents and purposes, the Bakersfield round will be the final opportunity for each driver to put themselves in the driver’s seat for the series championship. At Bakersfield, full points will be allotted to all licensed USAC National Midget drivers and teams, with a maximum of 84 points available. At the two Merced (Calif.) Speedway events later this weekend, Nov. 20-21, only 50 appearance points will be served out to all competitors across the board, regardless of finishing performance, with no room to make up ground. In essence, each driver’s results at Bakersfield will mean everything in determining a champion.
Point leader Windom (Canton, Ill.) took over the point lead last Saturday night at Arizona Speedway with a fourth-place finish coupled with Courtney’s mechanical issues that sidelined him with a 22nd place finish. Windom’s only previous Bakersfield appearance came in 2019 where he won his heat but flipped on the 2nd lap of the feature. He restarted but only managed a 16th place finish.
Courtney (Indianapolis, Ind.) was 4th at Bakersfield in both 2017 and 2019 while Thorson (Minden, Nev.) will make his first appearance with the series at Bakersfield since 2017 where he set fast qualifying time and finished 3rd.
While the championship contenders will have their own race-within-a-race, the rest of the field will have the absence of points weighing on their minds, with only a feature victory in their sights. They include Kyle Larson, the defending race winner at Bakersfield who also set quick time in the process. Larson (Elk Grove, Calif.) has made six USAC National Midget starts in 2020, winning four and finishing 2nd in the other two.
Logan Seavey (Sutter, Calif.) won the November Classic at Bakersfield in 2018 in grand style by driving around Rico Abreu in the fourth turn on the 30th and final lap to score the victory, which also locked up the series title for him in one fell swoop.
Top Rookie Buddy Kofoid (Penngrove, Calif.) was victorious in the most recent USAC National Midget feature last Saturday during Western World at Arizona Speedway. His Bakersfield debut in 2019 resulted in a 13th place finish.
Tanner Carrick (Lincoln, Calif.), meanwhile, is the only driver to have finished inside the top-10 in each of the past three Bakersfield USAC National Midget races with a 10th in 2017, a 6th in 2018 and another 10th in 2019.
Carrick recently rejoined Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports for the west coast swing after racing for the team full-time between 2017-19. The team will bring eight cars to Bakersfield with Kofoid and Carrick joined by teammates Cannon McIntosh (Bixby, Okla.) and Daison Pursley (Locust Grove, Okla.) who both return for their second career appearances at Bakersfield while Rookies Bryant Weideman (Colby, Kans.), Kaylee Bryson (Muskogee, Okla.), Brenham Crouch (Lubbock, Texas) and 2018 BCRA Midget champ Jesse Love (Menlo Park, Calif.) all make their first forays to Bako.
Spencer Bayston (Lebanon, Ind.), the 2017 USAC National Midget titlist, collected a runner-up finish in 2017 and a 4th in 2018 for his two best Bakersfield results.
Thomas Meseraull (San Jose, Calif.) was a top-ten runner with the USAC National Midgets at Bakersfield all the way back in 2000, finishing 7th. In 2019 at the 1/3-mile dirt oval, Meseraull ripped through the pack from his 20th starting position to finish 8th and earn hard charger honors.
Justin Grant (Ione, Calif.), a 2007 BCRA Midget titlist, earned his best Bakersfield result in USAC National Midget competition with a 5th in 2017. A USAC Western States Midget champion in 2018, Michael Faccinto (Hanford, Calif.) led the first six laps and finished 9th in the 2017 November Classic.
Robert Dalby, the reigning USAC Western States Midget champion from Anaheim, Calif., is one of six drivers to have started each of the three most recent USAC National Midget features at Bakersfield in 2017-18-19 along with Bayston, Courtney, Carrick, Michael Pickens and Zeb Wise.
Dalby will be joined in this Tuesday’s lineup by a number of past November Classic starters, USAC National Midget and World of Outlaws Sprint Car Rookie of the Year Carson Macedo (Lemoore, Calif.), 2009 BCRA and 2012 USAC Western States Dirt Midget champion David Prickett (Fresno, Calif.), plus 9th in points Cole Bodine (Rossville, Ind.) as well as Chase Johnson (Penngrove, Calif.), Ethan Mitchell (Mooresville, N.C.) and 2015 BCRA Midget champ Frankie Guerrini (San Rafael, Calif.).
Ben Worth (Coalinga, Calif.) captured his first, and to date, only career USAC Western States Midget win in April of 2019 at Bakersfield, leading the final nine laps en route to victory. He’s seeking his first Bakersfield USAC National Midget start on Tuesday.
Worth is joined by a slew of first-time hopeful Bakersfield USAC National Midget feature starters, two-time NASCAR Cup Series winner Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (Olive Branch, Miss.), plus Emerson Axsom (Franklin, Ind.), Dillon Welch (Carmel, Ind.), 10th in points Andrew Layser (Collegeville, Pa.) and Clinton Boyles (Greenwood, Mo.) along with 2019 NARC King of the West champion D.J. Netto (Hanford, Calif.), 2014 Chili Bowl prelim night winner Jonathan Beason (Broken Arrow, Okla.), 2018 BCRA Midget champ Maria Cofer (Macdoel, Calif.), Lance Bennett (Parker, Colo.), Hayden Reinbold (Gilbert, Ariz.), Chance Crum (Snohomish, Wash.), Ashlyn Rodriguez (Wilton, Calif.), Brody Fuson (Bakersfield, Calif.) and more.
USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midgets and California’s Bakersfield Speedway have a history that dates back six decades. Davey Moses won the first trip by the USAC National Midgets in the summer of 1959. Over that period, 21 series races have been held at the lightning-quick 1/3-mile dirt oval with Jay Drake and Billy Vukovich serving as the winningest drivers with the series at Bakersfield with three apiece.
Tuesday at Bakersfield, the USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget / USAC Western States non-points Midget event will be joined by the California Lightning Sprints. The drivers meeting takes place at 5pm Pacific with hot laps beginning at 6pm. Grandstands are closed to all spectators. Pit passes are $40 for USAC members & $45 for non-members.
The NOS Energy Drink November Classic from Bakersfield will be streamed live on FloRacing at https://bit.ly/2Zs7zFP.
USAC NOS ENERGY DRINK MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Chris Windom-1,619, 2-Tyler Courtney-1,608, 3-Tanner Thorson-1,587, 4-Buddy Kofoid-1,528, 5-Cannon McIntosh-1,376, 6-Daison Pursley-1,218, 7-Tanner Carrick-1,145, 8-Justin Grant-1,030, 9-Cole Bodine-1,005, 10-Andrew Layser-1,004.
PROJECTED BAKERSFIELD DRIVER ENTRIES:
1K KYLE LARSON/Elk Grove, CA
4 ROBERT DALBY/Anaheim, CA
5 JUSTIN GRANT/Ione, CA
5G BEN WORTH/Coalinga, CA
7BC TYLER COURTNEY/Indianapolis, IN
7J MICHAEL FACCINTO/Hanford, CA
7x THOMAS MESERAULL/San Jose, CA
9 DAISON PURSLEY/Locust Grove, OK
10 LANCE BENNETT/Parker, CO
15 EMERSON AXSOM/Franklin, IN
15DJ DAVID PRICKETT/Fresno, CA
17JR RICKY STENHOUSE JR./Olive Branch, MS
19A LOGAN SEAVEY/Sutter, CA
19AZ HAYDEN REINBOLD/Gilbert, AZ
19m ETHAN MITCHELL/Mooresville, NC
19S SPENCER BAYSTON/Lebanon, IN
21 CARSON MACEDO/Lemoore, CA
25c CHASE JOHNSON/Penngrove, CA
25m TANNER THORSON/Minden, NV
31 CHANCE CRUM/Snohomish, WA
31B JONATHAN BEASON/Broken Arrow, OK
37m ASHLYN RODRIGUEZ/Wilton, CA
39BC COLE BODINE/Rossville, IN
51 BRODY FUSON/Bakersfield, CA
57 MARIA COFER/Macdoel, CA
63 FRANKIE GUERRINI/San Rafael, CA
67 BUDDY KOFOID/Penngrove, CA
67K BRYANT WEIDEMAN/Colby, KS
71 KAYLEE BRYSON/Muskogee, OK
71K CANNON McINTOSH/Bixby, OK
81 DILLON WELCH/Carmel, IN
82 ANDREW LAYSER/Collegeville, PA
88N D.J. NETTO/Hanford, CA
89 CHRIS WINDOM/Canton, IL
97 BRENHAM CROUCH/Lubbock, TX
97K JESSE LOVE/Menlo Park, CA
98 CLINTON BOYLES/Greenwood, MO
98K TANNER CARRICK/Lincoln, CA
BAKERSFIELD SPEEDWAY USAC NATIONAL MIDGET WINS:
3-Jay Drake & Billy Vukovich
2-Ron Shuman & Sleepy Tripp
1-Brady Bacon, Billy Boat, Dave Darland, Terry Farrar, Jordan Hermansader, Page Jones, Kyle Larson, Davey Moses, Logan Seavey, Frank Secrist & Rich Vogler
BAKERSFIELD SPEEDWAY USAC NATIONAL MIDGET WINNERS:
1959: Davey Moses (8/2)
1966: Frank Secrist (8/14) & Billy Vukovich (9/11)
1967: Billy Vukovich (7/2) & Billy Vukovich (7/16)
1974: Sleepy Tripp (11/24)
1988: Rich Vogler (11/11)
1989: Sleepy Tripp (11/18)
1990: Terry Farrar (11/17)
1991: Page Jones (11/23)
1992: Ron Shuman (11/26)
1993: Ron Shuman (11/25)
1994: Jordan Hermansader (11/24)
1995: Billy Boat (11/23)
1997: Jay Drake (11/22)
1998: Jay Drake (11/26)
1999: Dave Darland (11/20)
2000: Jay Drake (11/18)
2017: Brady Bacon (11/18)
2018: Logan Seavey (11/17)
2019: Kyle Larson (11/23)
BAKERSFIELD USAC NATIONAL MIDGET RESULTS: (2017-2019)
2017: 1. Brady Bacon, 2. Spencer Bayston, 3. Tanner Thorson, 4. Tyler Courtney, 5. Justin Grant, 6. Shane Golobic, 7. Ryan Robinson, 8. Alex Schutte, 9. Michael Faccinto, 10. Tanner Carrick, 11. Frankie Guerrini, 12. Chad Boat, 13. Courtney Crone, 14. Matt Mitchell, 15. David Prickett, 16. Ronnie Gardner, 17. Michael Pickens, 18. Cory Elliott, 19. Zeb Wise, 20. Robert Dalby, 21. Mason Daniel, 22. Holly Shelton, 23. Dustin Golobic, 24. Shannon McQueen. NT
2018: (starting position in parentheses) 1. Logan Seavey (1), 2. Rico Abreu (2), 3. Shane Golobic (6), 4. Spencer Bayston (11), 5. Chad Boat (7), 6. Tanner Carrick (13), 7. Brady Bacon (4), 8. Holly Shelton (25), 9. Jason McDougal (21), 10. Tucker Klaasmeyer (9), 11. Jerry Coons, Jr. (22), 12. Cole Bodine (23), 13. Cody Swanson (17), 14. Sam Johnson (8), 15. Dustin Golobic (3), 16. Robert Dalby (24), 17. Alex Schutte (16), 18. Holley Hollan (18), 19. C.J. Sarna (26), 20. Zeb Wise (5), 21. Ryan Robinson (10), 22. Tyler Courtney (15), 23. Sterling Cling (19), 24. Michael Faccinto (14), 25. Justin Grant (12), 26. Michael Pickens (20). NT
2019: (starting position in parentheses) 1. Kyle Larson (6), 2. Michael Pickens (1), 3. Rico Abreu (12), 4. Tyler Courtney (10), 5. Jesse Colwell (4), 6. Jason McDougal (2), 7. Gio Scelzi (9), 8. Thomas Meseraull (20), 9. Jerry Coons, Jr. (5), 10. Tanner Carrick (16), 11. Tucker Klaasmeyer (21), 12. Chase Johnson (13), 13. Buddy Kofoid (15), 14. Kevin Thomas, Jr. (11), 15. Carson Macedo (14), 16. Chris Windom (19), 17. Ethan Mitchell (18), 18. Spencer Bayston (3), 19. Daison Pursley (23), 20. Cory Elliott (25), 21. Robert Dalby (24), 22. Aaron Reutzel (7), 23. Logan Seavey (8), 24. Cannon McIntosh (22), 25. Zeb Wise (17). NT