By Richie Murray
Indianapolis, Indiana (August 17, 2021)………Even though it’s only in its third edition, when one thinks of the Driven2SaveLives BC39 Powered By NOS Energy Drink, the mind immediately thinks “big,” “major,” “prestige.”
The setting of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the heart-racing on-track activity and an electric atmosphere form the crux of the event that pushes it to “can’t miss” status. At the core of the event is its soul, with the driver talent being more than enough to make you salivate.
This year’s list includes 72 of the best of the best, the cream of the crop, all vying to add their names to an exclusive, longed-for list, to become a BC39 winner, an Indianapolis Motor Speedway winner, with just 39 laps around a quarter-mile dirt track separating themselves from racing immortality, one of the sport’s most coveted trophies and a $15,000 prize.
The Draft Party on Tuesday night, August 17, Brickyard Crossing located at 4400 W. 16th Street from 6-9pm ET will set the heat race lineups for Wednesday night’s opener on August 18. Eight heat races will be contested on Wednesday and conclude with the 25-lap Stoops Pursuit.
Qualifying races will kick off Thursday’s final night of BC39 activity on August 19 and works its way down from the D-Main to the C, to the B and to the 39-lap A-Main feature event.
The event boasts two past BC39 winners in Brady Bacon (2018) and Zeb Wise (2019). Broken Arrow, Oklahoma’s Bacon captured the inaugural BC39 victory three years ago, leading the last nine laps after making the winning move in traffic. The three-time USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car champion is the only driver to lead laps in both features in the event’s history, leading four laps late before being involved in a tangle with seven laps remaining.
Wise, of Angola, Ind., was victorious in the main event in 2019, leading on two non-consecutive occasions between laps 19-28 as well as the last seven from 33-39. Wise has won main events in both years of the race, also taking a spectacular score in the 2018 Stoops Pursuit with a pass two laps from the checkered.
CLOSE CALL CONTENDERS:
Two handfuls of drivers in the field have gotten themselves close to the promised land of a BC39 victory in their careers, which resulted in a top-10 finish.
Kevin Thomas Jr. (Cullman, Ala.) leads all in laps led in the BC39’s two-year history. He ran at the front of the pack for 30 laps in 2018 before finishing 3rd. In 2019, he recorded an 8th place result.
Tyler Courtney (Indianapolis, Ind.) is one of two drivers (Chad Boat) to finish inside the top-five in both BC39 starts, finishing 4th in 2018 and 2nd in 2019 after starting 20th, marking the biggest ever charge through the field in the event’s history.
Meanwhile, Justin Grant (Ione, Calif.), the series’ most recent winner on Aug. 7 at Pennsylvania’s Lanco’s Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway, is one of four drivers to finish in the top-10 of both BC39 feature races, joining Boat, Thomas and Courtney.
Reigning USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget champion Chris Windom (Canton, Ill.) finished 3rd in 2019. The 2020 champ is one of eight past USAC National Midget champions in this year’s BC39 field alongside Russ Gamester (1989), J.J. Yeley (2003), Jerry Coons Jr. (2006 & 2007), Tanner Thorson (2016), Spencer Bayston (2017), Logan Seavey (2018) and Courtney (2019). Seavey (Sutter, Calif.) finished 5th in the BC39 in 2019 while Coons was a best of 9th in 2018.
Kyle Larson (Elk Grove, Calif.) is the hottest race driver on planet earth right now, fresh off a Knoxville Nationals victory last Saturday night. Larson’s best result in a BC39 A-Main was 9th in 2019, but his most memorable result came in the Stoops Pursuit the night before in which he was the last car standing, literally, en route to the final lap victory while two of his fellow competitors flipped in front of and beside him.
Without going into too much depth, let’s just say that a BC39 lineup from any year does not lack in depth. You have champions, feature winners, NASCAR stars, INDYCAR stars, and so on and so on, all throughout the field. And that just may be the semi-feature lineup we’re speaking of.
A smattering of drivers have made starts in the BC39 feature, but have seen misfortune fall their way and, most certainly, are eying even bigger and better things this coming week to move up the leaderboard, most of whom have won multiple USAC National Midget features in their career.
Among those are Thomas Meseraull (San Jose, Calif.) who led the first 19 laps of the 2019 BC39 before being involved in an accident midway through the feature, which resulted in a non-indicative 19th place finish. Jason McDougal (Broken Arrow, Okla.) was 16th in 2018 after running near the top-five late before getting embroiled in a tangle. Cannon McIntosh (Bixby, Okla.) flipped late in 2019 to finish 18th. Spencer Bayston (Lebanon, Ind.) took 20th in 2019.
Chase Briscoe and Maria Cofer are both seeking first career USAC National Midget feature wins. NASCAR Rookie of the Year contender and IMS Road Course winner with the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Briscoe (Mitchell, Ind.), took 24th in the 2019 BC39. Cofer (Macdoel, Calif.), a multi-time winner on the USAC Western States Midget trail and a BCRA Midget champ to boot, was 17th in 2018.
LOOKING TO CRACK INTO THEIR FIRST FEATURE:
Even more have returned to The Dirt Track at Indianapolis Motor Speedway after previous BC39 appearances, which saw them come up just short of cracking the main event lineup.
USAC Triple Crown champion J.J. Yeley (Phoenix, Ariz.) is the lone driver to compete in the Indianapolis 500, the Brickyard 400 and the BC39 in his career, but is still going after his feature start in the event. Same is the case with Conor Daly (Noblesville, Ind.) who led the most laps (40) at the 2021 Indianapolis 500 just less than three months ago.
Russ Gamester (Peru, Ind.) and John Heydenreich (Bloomsburg, Pa.) are highly-successful veterans of the sport gunning for a coveted spot in the BC39 feature lineup, as is two-time USAC Midwest Thunder SpeeD2 Midget titlist Aaron Leffel (Springfield, Ohio).
Also shooting for a first BC39 A-Main start after previous tries are a number of drivers whose locales span the width of the United States and expand around the globe. Christchurch, New Zealand’s Glenn Waterland is one of two Kiwis in the field. Starting on the west coast, Randi Pankratz (Atascadero, Calif.) will make her return as will Carson Garrett from the Rockies of Littleton, Colo. Entering from the Great Plains are Iowa’s Robert Bell (Colfax, Iowa) along with Missouri’s Sam Johnson (St. Peters, Mo.) and Riley Kreisel (Warsaw, Mo.).
Daniel Robinson (Ewing, Ill.) comes to us from the Illini state while Hoosiers Cole Bodine (Rossville, Ind.), Justin Dickerson (Pittsboro, Ind.) and Jeff Wimmenauer (New Whiteland, Ind.) race in their homeland to tackle a first career BC39 feature start. Full-time USAC National Midget competitor Ethan Mitchell (Mooresville, N.C.) arrives from the east coast.
The list of BC39 “Rookies” and first-timers is staggering. Not only do you have USAC National Midget feature winners, you have USAC champions, the current USAC National Midget point leader, a NASCAR champion, a Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400 champion, all of whom have never contested a lap at The Dirt Track at IMS coming into this year.
Buddy Kofoid (Penngrove, Calif.) leads the USAC National Midget point standings entering the BC39, which will pay feature points only on Thursday night and appearance points to all others. It’s almost shocking that 2016 USAC National Midget champion Tanner Thorson (Minden, Nev.) is a Rookie in the event, but this will, in fact, mark the first appearance of the six-time series winner in 2021.
Chase Elliott (Dawsonville, Ga.) is the reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion, and is taking the wheel for his first BC39 foray after three previous USAC National Midget starts this year.
Ryan Newman (South Bend, Ind.) is a 13-time USAC National Midget feature winner, a 1995 series Rookie of the Year and the 1999 USAC Silver Crown champ. He’s gone on to win 18 NASCAR Cup races, including the 2008 Daytona 500 and the 2013 Brickyard 400 at IMS.
New Zealand midget champion Hayden Williams (Auckland, N.Z.) is making his BC39 debut as will 2021 USAC National Midget feature winners Kyle Cummins (Princeton, Ind.), Emerson Axsom (Franklin, Ind.), Corey Day (Clovis, Calif.) and Daison Pursley (Locust Grove, Okla.), plus top series Rookie Chase Randall (Waco, Texas) and five-time USAC Western States Midget champion Ronnie Gardner (Corona, Calif.).
The talented seven-car Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports bunch has a combined zero laps at the BC39 with all being Rookies this year. Kofoid and Pursley join Kaylee Bryson (Muskogee, Okla.), Taylor Reimer (Bixby, Okla.), Bryant Wiedeman (Colby, Kan.), Brenham Crouch (Lubbock, Texas) and Jonathan Shafer (Ashland, Ohio) in their first BC39 experiences.
Versatile wheelman Gary Taylor (Snohomish, Wash.) will take his first shot at the BC39 along with 2020 USAC IMRA SpeeD2 Midget champion Bryan Stanfill (Bakersfield, Calif.), 2020 USAC Midwest Thunder SpeeD2 Midget champ Jacob Denney (Galloway, Ohio), recent USAC National top-10 finisher Hayden Reinbold (Gilbert, Ariz.) as well as Kevin Woody Jr. (Victor, N.Y.), the KSE Racing Products Hard Charger from each of the last two series events.
Chance Crum (Snohomish, Wash.) has been a winner on the USAC Midwest Regional Midget circuit this year while Ian Creager (Covington, Ohio) has found victory lane with the USAC Midwest Thunder SpeeD2 Midgets. Ryan Timms (Oklahoma City, Okla.) has been victorious with ASCS while Tanner Berryhill (Bixby, Okla.) has twice started NASCAR Xfinity Series races on the 2.5-mile paved oval at IMS, finishing 29th in 2013 and 30th in 2014.
Mooresville, North Carolina’s Carson Kvapil will make his USAC debut in the BC39 this week. Carson’s father Travis Kvapil is the 2003 NASCAR Truck Series champion and made seven Brickyard 400 starts at IMS between 2005 and 2014.
Kvapil is joined by a whole host of first-time BC39 entrants, a list which includes Trevor Casey (Altoona, Iowa), Kameron Gladish (Indianapolis, Ind.), Jeff Schindler (Evansville, Ind.), Aiden Purdue (Clinton, Ill.), Austin Barnhill (Wilmington, N.C.), Billy Lawless (Fresno, Calif.), Karter Sarff (Mason City, Ill.), Ben Varner (Harbor Springs, Mich.), Tyler Edwards (Salina, Okla.), Blake Brannon (Morgan Hill, Calif.), Joe B. Miller (Millersville, Mo.), Zac Taylor (Green River, Wyo.), Rylan Gray (Greenfield, Ind.) and Tommy Kouns, who shares a hometown of Lebanon, Ind. with the USAC Midget’s all-time king, Mel Kenyon.
The event on the quarter-mile dirt oval inside Turn 3 at IMS will continue to honor late USAC champion and three-time Indianapolis 500 starter Bryan Clauson and increase awareness of and participation in the Indiana Donor Network and Driven2SaveLives.
The USAC Driven2SaveLives BC39 powered by NOS Energy Drink gets amped up on Tuesday, August 17, with the BC39 Draft Party where drivers will choose their heat race positions for the opening night of the BC39. The Draft Party will be held at the Brickyard Crossing located at 4400 W. 16th Street in Indianapolis, Ind. from 6-9pm ET. FloRacing will have live coverage of the draft beginning at 7pm.
On track action for the BC39 begins Wednesday, August 18, starting with pits/registration opening at 10am Eastern, followed by the drivers meeting in the IMS Media Room at 2pm Eastern. Public gates open at 3pm with cars hitting the track for practice at 5pm and opening ceremonies at 6:30pm. Heat races will begin at 7:30pm and the incredibly exciting Stoops Pursuit feature race will conclude the night’s racing action at 9pm.
The finale, on Thursday, August 19, will have pits/registration opening at 10am Eastern, public gates opening at 3pm and cars on track for practice at 4:30pm, with qualifying races to follow at 5:30pm. Opening ceremonies are slated for 7pm and immediately followed by the main feature events, starting with multiple 12-lap D-Mains, the 15-lap C-Main, the 20-lap semi-feature and the 39-lap main event.
Spectator tickets can be purchased directly at https://www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com/events/usac/buy-tickets. Spectators are to enter the Indianapolis Motor Speedway via 30th Street.
Every lap of the BC39 will be aired live on FloRacing at https://bit.ly/2ZpafUr.
ENTRY LIST: 2021 DRIVEN2SAVELIVES BC39 POWERED BY NOS ENERGY DRINK
01 BRYANT WIEDEMAN/Colby, KS (Keith Kunz-Curb-Agajanian Motorsports)
08 CANNON McINTOSH/Bixby, OK (Dave Mac Motorsports)
1NZ HAYDEN WILLIAMS/Auckland, NZ (BSL Racing)
2c TREVOR CASEY/Altoona, IA (Casey Racing)
2J JUSTIN GRANT/Ione, CA (RMS Racing)
2MD CARSON KVAPIL/Mooresville, NC (Marc Dailey Racing)
3G KYLE CUMMINS/Princeton, IN (Glenn Styres Racing)
4 JASON McDOUGAL/Broken Arrow, OK (Klatt Enterprises)
4K KAMERON GLADISH/Indianapolis, IN (Gladish Motorsports)
5 KEVIN THOMAS JR./Cullman, AL (Petry Motorsports)
5B CHASE BRISCOE/Mitchell, IN (Chase Briscoe Racing)
6BC RYAN NEWMAN/South Bend, IN (Clauson Marshall Racing)
7BC TYLER COURTNEY/Indianapolis, IN (Clauson Marshall Racing)
7x THOMAS MESERAULL/San Jose, CA (RMS Racing)
8 RANDI PANKRATZ/Atascadero, CA (Wally Pankratz)
9 CHASE ELLIOTT/Dawsonville, GA (Paul May Motorsports)
10 KEVIN WOODY JR./Victor, NY (Dave Mac Motorsports)
11 JEFF SCHINDLER/Evansville, IN (Brian & Deidre Martin)
11c GLENN WATERLAND/Christchurch, NZ (Glenn & Hayley Waterland)
11L AARON LEFFEL/Springfield, OH (Team Taylor Racing)
11m AIDEN PURDUE/Clinton, IL (Brian & Deidre Martin)
15 EMERSON AXSOM/Franklin, IN (Petry Motorsports)
15J JEFF WIMMENAUER/New Whiteland, IN (Jeff Wimmenauer)
15x CARSON GARRETT/Littleton, CO (Broc Garrett)
17 TANNER BERRYHILL/Bixby, OK (Berryhill Family Racing)
17B AUSTIN BARNHILL/Wilmington, NC (Sam Johnson Racing)
17L BILLY LAWLESS/Fresno, CA (Lawless Racing)
19A CHASE RANDALL/Waco, TX (Petry Motorsports)
19AZ HAYDEN REINBOLD/Gilbert, AZ (Reinbold-Underwood Motorsports)
19K RILEY KREISEL/Warsaw, MO (Ron Cox)
19M ETHAN MITCHELL/Mooresville, NC (Bundy Built Motorsports)
19T TANNER THORSON/Minden, NV (Reinbold-Underwood Motorsports)
21D JUSTIN DICKERSON/Pittsboro, IN (Mike Dickerson)
21H BRADY BACON/Broken Arrow, OK (TKH Motorsports)
21K KARTER SARFF/Mason City, IL (Karter Sarff Racing)
22 JOHN HEYDENREICH/Bloomsburg, PA (John Givens)
25 LOGAN SEAVEY/Sutter, CA (Tom Malloy)
25K TAYLOR REIMER/Bixby, OK (Keith Kunz-Curb-Agajanian Motorsports)
25v BEN VARNER/Harbor Springs, MI (Gladish Motorsports)
26 CHANCE CRUM/Snohomish, WA (Rudeen Racing)
32 GARY TAYLOR/Snohomish, WA (Mike & Brian Dunlap)
35 JACOB DENNEY/Galloway, OH (Petry Motorsports)
36 IAN CREAGER/Covington, OH (Tod Creager)
36x TYLER EDWARDS/Salina, OK (Dragonfly Aviation)
37 ZEB WISE/Angola, IN (Matt Wood Racing)
39BC COLE BODINE/Rossville, IN (Clauson Marshall Racing)
40 BLAKE BRANNON/Morgan Hill, CA (Brannon Corporation)
43 RONNIE GARDNER/Corona, CA (Kevin Arnold)
46 RUSS GAMESTER/Peru, IN (R & G, Inc.)
47BC COREY DAY/Clovis, CA (Clauson Marshall Racing)
47D CONOR DALY/Noblesville, IN (DiaEdge Racing)
49 JOE B. MILLER/Millersville, MO (Chris Lewis)
51 J.J. YELEY/Phoenix, AZ (Rick Ware Racing)
57 MARIA COFER/Macdoel, CA (Abacus Racing)
57D DANIEL ROBINSON/Ewing, IL (Daniel Robinson)
67 BUDDY KOFOID/Penngrove, CA (Keith Kunz-Curb-Agajanian Motorsports)
67K JONATHAN SHAFER/Ashland, OH (Keith Kunz-Curb-Agajanian Motorsports)
71 KAYLEE BRYSON/Muskogee, OK (Keith Kunz-Curb-Agajanian Motorsports)
71B ROBERT BELL/Colfax, IA (Robert Bell)
71K DAISON PURSLEY/Locust Grove, OK (Keith Kunz-Curb-Agajanian Motorsports)
71T ZAC TAYLOR/Green River, WY (Todd Henry)
72J SAM JOHNSON/St. Peters, MO (Sam Johnson Racing)
75AU BRYAN STANFILL/Bakersfield, CA (Griffiths Motorsport)
81G RYLAN GRAY/Greenfield, IN (Gray Racing)
84 SPENCER BAYSTON/Lebanon, IN (CB Industries)
85 JERRY COONS JR./Tucson, AZ (Central Motor Sports)
85T RYAN TIMMS/Oklahoma City, OK (CB Industries)
86 SHANE COTTLE/Kansas, IL (Danny Stamper)
86x KYLE LARSON/Elk Grove, CA (CB Industries)
89 CHRIS WINDOM/Canton, IL (CB Industries)
97 BRENHAM CROUCH/Lubbock, TX (Keith Kunz-Curb-Agajanian Motorsports)
98 TOMMY KOUNS/Lebanon, IN (Tommy Kouns)
USAC NOS ENERGY DRINK MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Buddy Kofoid-1511, 2-Chris Windom-1490, 3-Emerson Axsom-1476, 4-Tanner Thorson-1398, 5-Justin Grant-1395, 6-Daison Pursley-1344, 7-Logan Seavey-1257, 8-Thomas Meseraull-1231, 9-Kevin Thomas Jr.-1215, 10-Cannon McIntosh-1132.
PAST BC39 FEATURE WINNER:
2018: Brady Bacon
2019: Zeb Wise
PAST STOOPS PURSUIT WINNERS:
2018: Zeb Wise
2019: Kyle Larson
TRACK RECORDS FOR USAC NATIONAL MIDGETS AT THE DIRT TRACK AT IMS:
10 Laps – 9/6/2018 – Jake Neuman – 2:06.99
PAST BC39 RESULTS:
2018 FEATURE: (39 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Brady Bacon (7), 2. Chad Boat (10), 3. Kevin Thomas Jr. (1), 4. Tyler Courtney (2), 5. Christopher Bell (17), 6. Alex Bright (8), 7. Justin Grant (6), 8. Holly Shelton (9), 9. Jerry Coons Jr. (5), 10. Ryan Robinson (3), 11. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (11), 12. Chris Windom (22), 13. Logan Seavey (23), 14. Zeb Wise (14), 15. Shane Cottle (13), 16. Jason McDougal (25), 17. Maria Cofer (24), 18. Terry Babb (20), 19. Brayton Lynch (4), 20. David Budres (19), 21. Brian Karraker (21), 22. Tyler Thomas (18), 23. Tucker Klaasmeyer (15), 24. Jake Neuman (16), 25. Dillon Welch (12), 26. Dave Darland (26). NT
2019 FEATURE: (39 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Zeb Wise (5), 2. Tyler Courtney (20), 3. Chris Windom (6), 4. Chad Boat (16), 5. Logan Seavey (14), 6. Jesse Colwell (24), 7. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (15), 8. Kevin Thomas Jr. (3), 9. Kyle Larson (12), 10. Justin Grant (11), 11. Dillon Welch (8), 12. Tanner Carrick (23), 13. Michael Pickens (4), 14. Gio Scelzi (9), 15. Christopher Bell (17), 16. Brady Bacon (10), 17. Jason McDougal (7), 18. Cannon McIntosh (22), 19. Thomas Meseraull (1), 20. Spencer Bayston (2), 21. Tyler Thomas (13), 22. Tucker Klaasmeyer (18), 23. Jerry Coons Jr. (19), 24. Chase Briscoe (21), 25. Jake Neuman (26), 26. C.J. Leary (25). NT