Buddy Kofoid Rich Forman Photo

By Richie Murray

Speedway, Indiana (January 31, 2021)………Darren Hagen, Bryan Clauson, Kyle Larson, Rico Abreu, Christopher Bell, Carson Macedo, Tanner Carrick and Logan Seavey.

]That’s the murderers’ row of talent that Buddy Kofoid followed in the footsteps of on the venerable Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports team in 2020 by delivering a Rookie of the Year season with the USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midgets just as those eight drivers did previously.

“This is huge,” Kofoid exclaimed. “As a rookie, this is a big award. Obviously, the championship is the next big one we’re chasing, but you can only be a Rookie once. To be the best one of the year is really special and, for a team like this and a series like USAC, there’s an endless list of names that’ve earned it. To have my name up there with them is really cool. For the speed that we had and the wins that we got, it’s really rewarding to validate it.”

Kofoid’s freshman year with USAC was spectacular, racking up 14 top-fives and 22 top-tens while starting all 28 events during the 2020 National Midget season, which also included three victories at Sweet Springs, Mo., San Tan Valley, Ariz. and Bakersfield, Calif. en route to a 4th place finish in the standings.

In fact, Kofoid became just the seventh driver in USAC National Midget history to win Rookie of the Year, win at least three features and finish inside the top-four of the final standings in a single season, joining Danny Caruthers (1971), Larry Patton (1975), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (2007), Kyle Larson (2011), Christopher Bell (2013) and Logan Seavey (2018).

It was the journey to reach the first win that led the now 19-year-old Kofoid to an emotional victory lane celebration at Sweet Springs in September following a succession of four runner-up results at Gas City, Ind. Lawrenceburg, Ind., Nebraska’s Jefferson County Speedway and Pennsylvania’s Lanco’s Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway, which ultimately led up to win number one.

It’s something that the Penngrove, Calif. native chocks up to his progression of learning how to close out races in this discipline, with the competition as tight as it is. The ultimate “closeout” came in Kofoid’s third win of the season in mid-November at Bakersfield, where he had to fend off the practically unbeatable Kyle Larson down the stretch, the lone night of the year Larson served as his KKM teammate.

“With the year Kyle had, he wasn’t really ever contested,” Kofoid explained. “It was cool to contest with him and catch him and race it out, and kind of take it from him, I guess. We had identical cars and we were working with the same people, so even if it was just one race, it’s cool to say I beat Kyle straight up. It’s a testament to Jarrett (Martin) and Grant (Penn) and the whole team for how good they’ve gotten our cars, and the KKM guys have got it going pretty good. Hopefully, we can carry that momentum, even from just the end of the season, and our Chili Bowl success and bring it into Florida.”

But, like Hagen, Clauson, Abreu, Bell and Seavey, Kofoid eyes the next step of translating Rookie of the Year honors for KKM into, ultimately, becoming a USAC National Midget driving champion, where you might say anything less than a championship for Kofoid in 2021 would be less than ideal.

“That’s fair to say,” Kofoid acknowledged. “I think we’re fast enough to do it; we’ve just got to be consistent for the championship and I think we were fairly consistent last year, but I think we could be a little more. We’ve just got to win even more, and I’d love to talk to you guys again as a USAC champion. That’s definitely my dream and all of us on this team’s goal to do that.”

Kofoid will begin his 2021 USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget journey in the series openers on Feb. 5-6 at Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala, Fla. A dedicated practice night will precede the festivities on Feb. 4.


1969: Billy Engelhart

1970: Danny Brown

1971: Danny Caruthers

1972: Tommy Astone

1973: Mike Gregg

1974: Richard Powell

1975: Larry Patton

1976: James McElreath

1977: Lonnie Caruthers

1978: Tommy Thomas

1979: Barry Butterworth

1980: Trevor Boys

1981: Sherman Armstrong Jr.

1982: Chris Maxson

1983: John Andretti

1984: Russ Gamester

1985: Bobby Allen

1986: Steve Enlow

1987: John Meyers

1988: Jim Keeker

1989: Jeff Gordon

1990: Dan Ford

1991: Doug Kalitta

1992: Brian Gerster

1993: Chuck Leary

1994: David Bridges

1995: Ryan Newman

1996: Carl Olsen

1997: Nick Lundgreen

1998: Michael Lewis

1999: A.J. Fike

2000: Aaron Fike

2001: Bobby East

2002: Teddy Beach & Ron Gregory

2003: Ryan Durst

2004: Todd Beach

2005: Darren Hagen

2006: Bryan Clauson

2007: Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

2008: Chad Boat

2009: Zach Daum

2010: Daniel Bedford

2011: Kyle Larson

2012: Rico Abreu

2013: Christopher Bell

2014: Kevin Thomas Jr.

2015: Spencer Bayston

2016: Carson Macedo

2017: Tanner Carrick

2018: Logan Seavey

2019: Andrew Layser

2020: Buddy Kofoid