By Richie Murray
Meeker, Oklahoma (July 11, 2021)………The 1/4-mile length red carpet is rolled out for the USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship’s Tuesday Night Thunder on Tuesday night, July 13, at Meeker, Oklahoma’s Red Dirt Raceway for the first event of 2021 Mid-America Midget Week.
In the series’ most recent appearance at Red Dirt in 2021, Tanner Thorson found a sort of redemption for himself after losing the lead in the final laps of a race two nights earlier. This time around, at Red Dirt, faced with a similar scenario on a late restart, Thorson made sure his ultimate fate was going to play out differently, this time in his favor.
A late caution had stifled Thorson’s near five-second advantage with just three laps remaining a year ago at Red Dirt. By rule, lapped cars were moved to the tail. As it turned out, Thorson had to endure three shots at a final restart due to a succession of yellows that halted his quest.
On the third and final try, which went clean and green, Thorson wasn’t to be denied on this night, ridding himself of the recent plague of unfavorable fortune to win by 0.598 of a second.
The Sooner State love has been reciprocated in 2021 with the Minden, Nev. native becoming, quite literally, a resident of the state of Oklahoma, making the move to the Owasso area during the offseason.
Furthermore, Thorson subsequently became a USAC National Midget feature winner in Oklahoma, the most recent in fact, back in April at Port City Raceway in Tulsa, which was his first for Reinbold-Underwood Motorsports, for whom the 2016 series champion won for again in June during Indiana Midget Week at Lincoln Park Speedway in Putnamville, Ind.
Thorson’s lone Red Dirt start outside of his win resulted in an 8th in 2019, a race won by Logan Seavey. Seavey hasn’t finished worse than 2nd in either of his two Red Dirt starts. He led the final seven circuits to capture the 2019 race, which came one year after he led a race-high 13 laps and finished as the runner-up during his 2018 championship season.
Reigning USAC National Midget champion Chris Windom (Canton, Ill.) has finished inside the top-five in both of his Red Dirt runs. The seventh and most recent USAC Triple Crown champion led a single lap in 2019 before finishing 3rd, then raced to a 5th place finish in 2020.
Jerry Coons Jr. is the only driver to finish within the top-4 in all three of USAC’s Red Dirt USAC Midget races run since 2018. The USAC Triple Crown champion took 4th in 2018 and 4th again in 2019 after leading four laps late in the going. His best result there came just last year in 2020, finishing 3rd.
Current championship point leader Buddy Kofoid (Penngrove, Calif.) took 4th in his debut Red Dirt appearance in 2020. Fellow 2020 Rookie Emerson Axsom (Franklin, Ind.) was 6th in his first start there in the same 2020 event.
Jason McDougal (Broken Arrow, Okla.) earned his best career Red Dirt USAC result in 2018 with a 7th but led on two separate occasions for a total of nine laps early on in the 2019 feature before being caught up in an accident.
Cannon McIntosh (Bixby, Okla.) made his very first career USAC National Midget feature start at his home state Red Dirt Raceway in 2018, finishing 18th. McIntosh upped his performance in the following years with a best thus far of 7th in 2020 while leading briefly for one lap.
Justin Grant and Kevin Thomas Jr. have each raced to Red Dirt top-tens with Grant (Ione, Calif.) tallying a 6th in 2018 while Thomas (Cullman, Ala.) garnered an 8th during the same event in 2018.
Unrelated to Kevin, Tyler Thomas (Collinsville, Okla.) possesses a pair of top-ten results at Red Dirt in USAC National Midget competition with a best of 9th in 2020, following a 10th in 2019. Jonathan Beason (Broken Arrow, Okla.) has been the hard charger at Red Dirt in each of the last two seasons, starting 17th and finishing 5th in 2019, then proceeded from 18th to 8th in 2020.
Making return visits to Red Dirt with the USAC National Midgets are 2017 USAC Micro Sprint champion Daison Pursley (12th in 2020); 2012 USAC Western States Midget champion, Bakersfield, California’s Shannon McQueen (13th in 2019); Mooresville, North Carolina’s Ethan Mitchell (13th in 2020); St. Peters, Missouri’s Sam Johnson (14th in 2020); Lincoln, Nebraska’s Trey Gropp (17th in 2020); Coweta, Oklahoma’s Chance Morton (20th in 2020); Muskogee, Oklahoma’s Kaylee Bryson (20th in 2021) and more.
Red Dirt debuts come via two-time 2021 USAC National Midget feature winner Thomas Meseraull (San Jose, Calif.), leading series Rookie Bryant Wiedeman (Colby, Kan.), Brenham Crouch (Lubbock, Texas), Chase Randall (Waco, Texas), Hayden Reinbold (Gilbert, Ariz.), Ryan Timms (Oklahoma City, Okla.), J.R. Ewing (Phillipsburg, Kan.), plus Auckland, New Zealand natives Hayden Williams and Travis Buckley.
In the 16 previous USAC National Midget races held in the state of Oklahoma, only two drivers have been victorious on multiple occasions, that being Tanner Thorson and 1963 champ Bob Wente.
At Red Dirt, the gates open at 5pm (Central), drivers meeting at 5:45pm and hot laps at 6:30pm with qualifying and racing to follow. The NOW600 Non-Wing Micros are also on the event card.
General admission is just $25 with high school students and younger just $5 and children under five are admitted for free. Tickets are available online at www.reddirtraceway.com under the “Buy Tickets” tab and will be sold the day of the show as well. All access passes are available as well for $35 and available at the pit gate on the day of the show only.
Tuesday Night Thunder from Red Dirt Raceway will be streamed live on FloRacing at https://bit.ly/3dgONXz.
The Red Dirt event kicks off Mid-America Midget Week, which features four USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship races in three different Great Plains states during a five night span July 13-17.
Mid-America Midget Week begins on July 13 date at Meeker, Oklahoma’s Red Dirt Raceway; followed by a date on Wednesday, July 14 at Solomon Valley Raceway in Beloit, Kansas; then concludes with two nights at Jefferson County Speedway in Fairbury, Neb. on July 16 and on July 17, with the finale paying $10,000 to the winner.
USAC NOS ENERGY DRINK MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Buddy Kofoid-941, 2-Chris Windom-894, 3-Emerson Axsom-852, 4-Justin Grant-820, 5-Tanner Thorson-814, 6-Thomas Meseraull-802, 7-Daison Pursley-798, 8-Logan Seavey-781, 9-Kevin Thomas Jr.-732, 10-Jason McDougal-693.
USAC NATIONAL MIDGET WINS AT RED DIRT RACEWAY:
1-Christopher Bell, Logan Seavey & Tanner Thorson
USAC NATIONAL MIDGET WINNERS AT RED DIRT RACEWAY:
2018: Christopher Bell (7/10)
2019: Logan Seavey (7/9)
2020: Tanner Thorson (7/21)
USAC NATIONAL MIDGET WINS IN OKLAHOMA:
2-Tanner Thorson & Bob Wente
1-John Batts, Christopher Bell, Steve Cannon, Jimmy Caruthers, Tyler Courtney, Jimmy Davies, Justin Grant, Buddy Kofoid, Lloyd Ruby, Logan Seavey, Sleepy Tripp & Roger West
TRACK RECORDS FOR USAC NATIONAL MIDGETS AT RED DIRT RACEWAY:
1 Lap – 7/21/2020 – Tyler Courtney – 13.108 – 68.660 mph
8 Laps – 7/21/2020 – Sam Johnson – 1:49.580 – 65.705 mph
10 Laps – 7/10/2018 – Tyler Thomas – 2:24.03 – 62.487 mph
PAST RED DIRT RACEWAY USAC NATIONAL MIDGET RESULTS:
2018 FEATURE: (30 laps, starting position in parentheses) 1. Christopher Bell (6), 2. Logan Seavey (5), 3. Tanner Carrick (7), 4. Jerry Coons, Jr. (10), 5. Brady Bacon (3), 6. Justin Grant (4), 7. Jason McDougal (11), 8. Kevin Thomas, Jr. (14), 9. Spencer Bayston (18), 10. Tyler Courtney (2), 11. Chad Boat (19), 12. Holly Shelton (15), 13. Ryan Robinson (1), 14. Tucker Klaasmeyer (21), 15. Tyler Thomas (17), 16. Brayton Lynch (24), 17. Jonathan Beason (9), 18. Cannon McIntosh (20), 19. Zane Hendricks (8), 20. Kyle Craker (16), 21. Cole Bodine (23), 22. Ace McCarthy (12), 23. Maria Cofer (22), 24. Dave Darland (13). NT
2019 FEATURE: (30 laps, starting position in parentheses) 1. Logan Seavey (9), 2. Zeb Wise (7), 3. Chris Windom (11), 4. Jerry Coons, Jr. (15), 5. Jonathan Beason (17), 6. Matt Sherrell (16), 7. Chad Boat (13), 8. Tanner Thorson (3), 9. Tucker Klaasmeyer (10), 10. Tyler Thomas (19), 11. Jesse Colwell (14), 12. Tanner Carrick (6), 13. Shannon McQueen (18), 14. Hank Davis (22), 15. Robert Dalby (21), 16. Tyler Courtney (1), 17. Jason McDougal (2), 18. Kevin Thomas, Jr. (5), 19. Andrew Deal (20), 20. Holley Hollan (12), 21. Cannon McIntosh (4), 22. Zane Hendricks (8). NT
2020 FEATURE: (30 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Tanner Thorson (1), 2. Tyler Courtney (6), 3. Jerry Coons Jr. (8), 4. Buddy Kofoid (5), 5. Chris Windom (3), 6. Emerson Axsom (11), 7. Cannon McIntosh (4), 8. Jonathan Beason (18), 9. Tyler Thomas (9), 10. Andrew Layser (10), 11. Robert Dalby (20), 12. Daison Pursley (13), 13. Ethan Mitchell (2), 14. Sam Johnson (7), 15. Cole Bodine (17), 16. Tanner Carrick (15), 17. Trey Gropp (14), 18. Steven Shebester (12), 19. Shannon McQueen (22), 20. Chance Morton (21), 21. Kaylee Bryson (16), 22. Ace McCarthy (19). NT