By Richie Murray
Tulsa, Oklahoma (April 7, 2021)………The 2021 USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget season is young, just two races old, but an interesting array of storylines have emerged at the forefront for this Friday and Saturday’s two-night Werco Manufacturing T-Town Showdown presented by the Rayce Rudeen Foundation, which arrives at Port City Raceway in Tulsa, Oklahoma on April 9-10, with an open practice set for Thursday, April 8.
THE BULLRING EFFECT
The 1/8-mile tracks can be wild, wooly, chaotic, hectic and thrilling. But, mostly, they can be unpredictable. We saw three and even four-wide action throughout both nights of last year’s T-Town Midget Showdown. Regardless of whether you’re running up front or mid-pack, you seemingly have a shot to play yourself into contention. Lapped traffic comes quickly, and there’s no room for error, or comfort, when you’re constantly battling for position on the leaderboard or track position.
THORSON THE NEW SHOE FOR REINBOLD/UNDERWOOD
As announced last week, 2016 USAC National Midget champion Tanner Thorson picked up a midget ride with Reinbold-Underwood Motorsports. With new teams, it hasn’t taken Thorson long to get up to speed. In 2020, he won his first time out with Hayward Motorsports. With Tom Malloy’s team, he finished 4th in his first start and won in his third. With Dave Mac Motorsports in Ocala, Fla. to start the 2021 season, Thorson finished 2nd in his first start. This time, the learning curve may not be as drastic with the same crew and same team that support him on the USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car trail.
Speaking of Thorson, no drivers owns a longer streak of top-ten finishes in the series than he. He has 16 in a row coming into this weekend’s events at Port City, a streak which, oddly enough, began in the series’ most recent trip to Oklahoma, at Red Dirt Raceway on July 21, 2020, which he won.
Thorson’s streak of 16 consecutive top-tens is 13 more than his nearest competitor, Buddy Kofoid. Chris Windom and Daison Pursley, along with Kofoid, remain the lone three drivers to finish inside the top-five of both races this season. Kofoid’s streak goes back to the finale of last year where he has also finished inside the top-five in six of his last seven (3 wins, 1 third and 2 fourths).
Of the drivers mentioned above, Windom has the best average finish with USAC at Port City (2.5), only behind Tyler Courtney’s 2.0 from last year.
BIG MICRO EXPERIENCE
Track experience always helps, and this weekend’s field features several racers who’ve competed extensively at Port City, the hotbed of micro sprint racing, where many of today’s young stars cut their teeth on their way up the ranks. Among the frequent winners over the years in micros at the track are Jason McDougal, Taylor Reimer, Cannon McIntosh, Alex Sewell, Tyler Thomas, Jonathan Beason, Daison Pursley and Glenn Bratti, just to name a few.
Oklahoma has been the breeding ground for a number of standouts in USAC racing in recent years with the likes of Christopher Bell and T-Town Midget Showdown event promoter Brady Bacon among those to collect National championships. More than one-third of this weekend’s driver roster shows Okie pride, including those listed above as well as Ace McCarthy, Kyle Wilson, Chance & Kade Morton, Tanner Berryhill, Emilio Hoover, Trey Marcham, Kevin Brewer and Cade Cowles. However, not once has an Oklahoma native won a USAC National Midget race in their home state. Yet.
A huge thank you goes to FK Indy ($1,001) and Priority Aviation/Marshall Family ($1,000) for upping the winner’s share to $7,001 for the Saturday night feature of the T-Town Midget Showdown. That marks the biggest winner’s share since the 2019 BC39 at The Dirt Track at IMS. Additionally, Dahmer Powertrain, Inc. has also increased the minimum payout for all midget feature starters to $500 on Saturday.
LONG RACE, SHORT TRACK
Saturday’s feature event is scheduled for 50 laps. The four most recent 50-lap winners of a USAC National Midget feature are in this weekend’s field: Tanner Thorson (2020), Cannon McIntosh (2019), Logan Seavey (2018) and Justin Grant (2017), all of which came at the Southern Illinois Center in Du Quoin. For three of those drivers – McIntosh, Seavey and Grant, it was their first career USAC National Midget win. The last 50-lap USAC National Midget feature that was held in Oklahoma came at Taft Stadium in Oklahoma City during the 1962 season, won by Jimmy Davies.
Jake Neuman is one of those eying a first career USAC National Midget feature victory. He was the victor of a POWRi event at Port City on March 28. Daison Pursley has been on the verge of a breakthrough first USAC National win of late. He’s won in a micro at Port City as recently as two weeks ago, as has Taylor Reimer, Alex Sewell and Jonathan Beason, who’s won in both a midget and a micro there. Mix in the likes of series regulars Emerson Axsom, Bryant Wiedeman, Chase Randall, Brenham Crouch, Ethan Mitchell, Kyle Cummins, Trey Gropp, Sam Johnson and more, contenders stand a more than prominent chance for a first win. Buddy Kofoid was the sole first-time USAC National Midget winner in 2020, doing so at Sweet Springs, Mo.
T-MEZ SEZ BACK-TO-BACK?
Tanner Thorson and Buddy Kofoid are the only two drivers in the T-Town Midget Showdown field to win back-to-back USAC National Midget races in their careers. Tanner Thorson did it twice, first in 2015 and again in 2016, while Kofoid did so toward the end of 2020. Thomas Meseraull was the most recent winner with the series in February in Ocala, Fla. and also has the opportunity to win two of the first three races to start the year, as does Kofoid. Either one would become the third consecutive driver to score two of three to start off a year if he could pull it off: Tyler Courtney (2019) and Thorson (2020).
CAN C-MAC GET BACK ON TRACK?
Bad luck and misfortune have found its way to Cannon McIntosh in the early part of the 2021 season. After finishing 11 out of the final 14 races of 2020 with a top-ten finish, he started off in Florida this year with 14th and 11th place results. However, this weekend could mark the flip of the script at a track, Port City, where he owns the one-lap USAC Midget track record of 9.398 sec. in addition to a victory in the Turnpike Challenge Midget race there in 2020. He enters this weekend with a bit of momentum as the winner of last Saturday’s USAC Midget non-points special event, the Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Hometown Challenge, at Riverside International Speedway in West Memphis, Ark.
Two of the biggest charges through the field during the 2020 USAC National Midget season came at Port City, the only track with two position advancements that ranked within the top-five best from last year. On the opening night, Logan Seavey went 19th to 2nd for an advancement of 17 positions in the feature. On the following night, it was Andrew Layser making up ground from 21st starting position to finish 6th. Port City was also the only track with three charges that ranked inside the top-12 in 2020 with Tanner Carrick also going 22nd to 9th in the opener a year ago. In addition to rewards from KSE Racing Products, drivers will be on the lookout for the $250 bonus each from Dragonfly Aviation, money which goes straight to the hardest charging driver from each night.
AN OKLAHOMA-WAY FROM HOME FOR THE WEEKEND
Just 14 previous USAC National Midget events have been held in Oklahoma between the years of 1957-2020, with five of those events being held in the past three seasons. In all those years, just once has a driver won twice in the Sooner State in USAC National Midget competition – Bob Wente. Justin Grant (Port City), Logan Seavey (Red Dirt) and Tanner Thorson (Red Dirt) have solid opportunities to join Wente this time around as the second two-time Oklahoma winner.
Thursday’s open practice at Port City runs from 6-9pm CDT. Grandstand admission on practice night is free while pit passes are $20 apiece.
Both nights, the pits open at 2pm CDT, with the grandstands opening at 5pm and hot laps at 6:30 with qualifying and racing immediately following.
For Friday, adult advance general admission tickets are $25. On race day, the tickets are $30 with children ages 6-12 $10 and kids ages 5 and under free.
On Saturday’s racing events, adult advance general admission tickets are $30. On race day, the tickets are $35 with children ages 6-12 $10 and kids ages 5 and under free.
T-Town Midget Showdown tickets can be purchased at: https://usacracing.ticketspice.com/2021-t-town-midget-showdown. Pit passes can be purchased now at: www.TracPass.com.
Both nights of racing action can be viewed live on FloRacing at https://bit.ly/3dgONXz.
PRE-ENTERED DRIVERS FOR THE T-TOWN MIDGET SHOWDOWN
(42 drivers as of April 6, 2021)
00 ACE McCARTHY/Tahlequah, OK
01 BRYANT WIEDEMAN/Colby, KS
05 KYLE WILSON/Jenks, OK
08 CANNON McINTOSH/Bixby, OK
2J JUSTIN GRANT/Ione, CA
3G KYLE CUMMINS/Princeton, IN
3N JAKE NEUMAN/New Berlin, IL
4 JASON McDOUGAL/Broken Arrow, OK
5 KEVIN THOMAS JR./Cullman, AL
5H CASEY HICKS/Westwood, KS
7MF CHANCE MORTON/Coweta, OK
7u KYLE JONES/Kennedale, TX
7x THOMAS MESERAULL/San Jose, CA
8 ALEX SEWELL/Broken Arrow, OK
8J JONATHAN BEASON/Broken Arrow, OK
8m KADE MORTON/Coweta, OK
9JR DEREK HAGAR/Marion, AR
14H JESSE COLWELL/Red Bluff, CA
15 EMERSON AXSOM/Franklin, IN
15D ANDREW DEAL/Caney, KS
17 TANNER BERRYHILL/Bixby, OK
19 BRIAN CARBER/Pipersville, PA
19A CHASE RANDALL/Waco, TX
19AZ HAYDEN REINBOLD/Gilbert, AZ
19m ETHAN MITCHELL/Mooresville, NC
19T TANNER THORSON/Minden, NV
21K EMILIO HOOVER/Broken Arrow, OK
21KS TREY GROPP/Lincoln, NE
24T GLENN BRATTI/Springdale, AR
25 LOGAN SEAVEY/Sutter, CA
32 TREY MARCHAM/Newcastle, OK
35 JACOB DENNEY/Galloway, OH
41 OLIVER AKARD/Fort Myers, FL
47K KEVIN BREWER/Owasso, OK
49 JOE B. MILLER/Millersville, MO
67 BUDDY KOFOID/Penngrove, CA
70 CADE COWLES/Bixby, OK
71K DAISON PURSLEY/Locust Grove, OK
72 SAM JOHNSON/St. Peters, MO
89 CHRIS WINDOM/Canton, IL
91T TYLER THOMAS/Collinsville, OK
97 BRENHAM CROUCH/Lubbock, TX