From Richie Murray
SPEEDWAY, IN (August 18, 2021) – Kyle Larson admitted he got a little lucky during the final segment of Wednesday’s Stoops Pursuit on night one of the USAC Driven2SaveLives BC39 Powered By NOS Energy Drink at The Dirt Track at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Race leader Kyle Cummins’ misfortune resulted in Larson’s good fortune as the Elk Grove, Calif. native took advantage of Cummins’ turn four slide and stop coming to the white flag.
Larson went virtually unchallenged over the final two circuits to earn his second consecutive Stoops Pursuit victory, a unique 25-lap race split into five segments in which cars are eliminated from the competition by either being passed or stopping after being involved in an accident.
“It would’ve been tough to get by him with the line he was running,” Larson noted of Cummins. “I put a couple of good corners together there to track him down a little bit, then he just over-rotated there. I got lucky for sure.”
While several others fell victim to the latter, Larson was the champion of the former by virtue of advancing a total of 15 positions from his 16th starting spot, earning a base prize of $1,500 and $100 for each car he passed, padding his wallet with a solid $3,000 payday for his efforts in the CB Industries/PristineAuction.com – K & C Drywall – Billy Boat Performance Exhaust/Spike/Speedway.
Just as he did in 2019, Larson took over the lead for the final two laps. However, Wednesday’s edition was a slightly less chaotic Stoops Pursuit ending for Larson than the viral video seen around the world following the final lap of the 2019 event in which two cars flipped and Larson remained as the last one standing, quite literally.
Nonetheless, Larson became the last one standing once again in the sense that he was practically flawless while others faltered. Larson kept his nose relatively clean around the tight confines of the quarter-mile dirt oval and took advantage of a succession of opportunities that arose, including when Grant slipped over the turn four cushion on the start of the fifth and final segment, allowing Larson to slip into second with five laps remaining.
“There’s a lot that happens in that race,” Larson acknowledged. “It’s hard to keep track of where you’re running and where you need to finish and try not to be too aggressive in those earlier rounds. I knew (Justin) Grant was really good and I knew if he passed people, he was going to eliminate cars in front of us. It kind of worked out, and a couple mistakes in front of me allowed me to get the win.”
With the white flag in sight, Cummins, in his first BC39 experience, held a four car length lead over Cummins as he grooved the low side of the racetrack while Larson worked up top. As he navigated turn four, Cummins became a tick sideways, spelling disaster as his car slid to a halt.
All Cummins could muster at that point was a dejected flip of the visor, a raised palm to the sky, and a wonder of what could’ve been after leading a race-high 18 of the 25 laps.
Larson turned his fastest lap on the final lap to record a 1.118 second victory with Tanner Thorson second, 2018 BC39 feature victor Brady Bacon third, Justin Grant fourth and 2018 Stoops Pursuit winner Zeb Wise fifth. All drivers finishing the top-five started no better than 12th.
With just one final night BC39 feature experience in his career, a 9th in 2019, Larson feels he’s finally got the handle back on his car during what was his first appearance in a USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget event of any kind since November of 2020. It certainly didn’t take long to knock off the so-called rust heading into Thursday’s BC39 finale.
“I finally felt a little bit more comfortable there, especially those last five,” Larson said. “I got to run really hard, bend it hard and get good grip. It’s been awhile since I’ve been in a midget, so I’m not familiar enough with being that sideways, but I’m getting the hang of it here and we should be good tomorrow.”
The Stoops Pursuit got off to a hectic start on the opening lap when third-starting Aiden Purdue became sideways in turn two, ultimately collecting 10 other cars in the melee, including Corey Day, Spencer Bayston, Ryan Timms, Buddy Kofoid, Logan Seavey, Thomas Meseraull, Chris Windom, Chase Elliott, Kaylee Bryson and Ryan Newman.
Due to the rule of stopping after being involved in an accident, all 11 were eliminated from the event just as soon as their races began.
Cole Bodine led the first five laps of the Stoops Pursuit before being overtaken by Kyle Cummins. Bodine’s race ended on lap nine following contact with Justin Grant while battling for second.
Eight heat races were held Wednesday night with Cole Bodine, Chase Randall, Tyler Courtney, Aiden Purdue, Justin Grant, Ryan Timms, Corey Day and Kyle Cummins taking wins.
Grant, who charged from sixth to first in heat race five, is the high-point man heading into Thursday night’s finale, which kicks off with six qualifying races.
Riley Kreisel was the lone flip of the night during heat race eight, walking away uninjured from an incident in which he dug his right rear tire into the cushion and barrel-rolled into turn three.
USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget Car Series
Driven2SaveLives BC39 Powered By NOS Energy Drink
The Dirt Track at Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Wednesday, August 18, 2021
SIMPSON RACE PRODCUTS FIRST HEAT: (10 laps, passing points) 1. Cole Bodine (#39BC Clauson Marshall), 2. Jerry Coons Jr. (#85 Central), 3. Karter Sarff (#21K Sarff), 4. Kevin Thomas Jr. (#5 Petry), 5. Bryant Wiedeman (#01 Kunz/Curb-Agajanian), 6. Hayden Reinbold (#19AZ Reinbold-Underwood), 7. Blake Brannon (#40 Brannon), 8. Kevin Woody Jr. (#10 Dave Mac).
COMPETITION SUSPENSION, INC. SECOND HEAT: (10 laps, passing points) 1. Chase Randall (#19A Reinbold-Underwood), 2. Chase Elliott (#9 May), 3. Buddy Kofoid (#67 Kunz/Curb-Agajanian), 4. Chris Windom (#89 CBI), 5. Hayden Williams (#1NZ BSL), 6. Carson Garrett (#15x Garrett), 7. Jacob Denney (#35 Petry), 8. Justin Dickerson (#21D Dickerson), 9. Tommy Kouns (#98 Kouns). NT
INDY METAL FINISHING THIRD HEAT: (10 laps, passing points) 1. Tyler Courtney (#7BC Clauson Marshall), 2. Kaylee Bryson (#71 Kunz/Curb-Agajanian), 3. Chase Briscoe (#5B Briscoe), 4. Zac Taylor (#71T Henry), 5. Jason McDougal (#4 Klatt), 6. Emerson Axsom (#15 Petry), 7. Chance Crum (#26 Rudeen), 8. Ben Varner (#25v Gladish), 9. Jeff Schindler (#11 Martin).
INDY RACE PARTS FOURTH HEAT: (10 laps, passing points) 1. Aiden Purdue (#11m Martin), 2. Logan Seavey (#25 Malloy), 3. Brady Bacon (#21H TKH), 4. Ethan Mitchell (#19m Bundy Built), 5. Maria Cofer (#57 Abacus), 6. J.J. Yeley (#51 Ware), 7. Robert Bell (#71B Bell), 8. Kameron Gladish (#4K Gladish), 9. Randi Pankratz (#8 Pankratz).
SIMPSON RACE PRODCUTS FIFTH HEAT: (10 laps, passing points) 1. Justin Grant (#2J RMS), 2. Kyle Larson (#86x CBI), 3. Taylor Reimer (#25K Kunz/Curb-Agajanian), 4. Austin Barnhill (#17B Johnson), 5. Brenham Crouch (#97 Kunz/Curb-Agajanian), 6. Tanner Thorson (#19T Reinbold-Underwood), 7. Russ Gamester (#46 R & G), 8. Rylan Gray (#81G Gray), 9. Trevor Casey (#2c Casey).
COMPETITION SUSPENSION, INC. SIXTH HEAT: (10 laps, passing points) 1. Ryan Timms (#85T CBI), 2. Daison Pursley (#71K Kunz/Curb-Agajanian), 3. Tanner Berryhill (#17 Berryhill), 4. Shane Cottle (#86 Stamper), 5. Carson Kvapil (#2MD Dailey), 6. Ronnie Gardner (#43 Arnold), 7. Tyler Edwards (#36x Dragonfly), 8. Billy Lawless (#17L Lawless), 9. Jeff Wimmenauer (#15J Wimmenauer).
INDY METAL FINISHING SEVENTH HEAT: (10 laps, passing points) 1. Corey Day (#47BC Clauson Marshall), 2. Thomas Meseraull (#7x RMS), 3. Bryan Stanfill (#75AU Griffiths), 4. Gary Taylor (#32 Dunlap), 5. Daniel Robinson (#57D McCreery), 6. Conor Daly (#47D DiaEdge), 7. Ryan Newman (#6BC Clauson Marshall), 8. Aaron Leffel (#11L Taylor), 9. John Heydenreich (#22 Givens).
INDY RACE PARTS EIGHTH HEAT: (10 laps, passing points) 1. Kyle Cummins (#3G Styres), 2. Cannon McIntosh (#08 Dave Mac), 3. Spencer Bayston (#84 CBI), 4. Zeb Wise (#37 Wood), 5. Sam Johnson (#72J Johnson), 6. Glenn Waterland (#11c Waterland), 7. Jonathan Shafer (#67K Kunz/Curb-Agajanian), 8. Ian Creager (#36 Creager), 9. Riley Kreisel (#19 Cox).
STOOPS PURSUIT: (25 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Kyle Larson (16), 2. Tanner Thorson (18), 3. Brady Bacon (22), 4. Justin Grant (12), 5. Zeb Wise (24), 6. Kyle Cummins (4), 7. J.J. Yeley (23), 8. Chase Briscoe (5), 9. Emerson Axsom (20), 10. Tyler Courtney (14), 11. Daison Pursley (10), 12. Cole Bodine (2), 13. Conor Daly (26), 14. Jerry Coons Jr. (1), 15. Chase Randall (6), 16. Aiden Purdue (3), 17. Corey Day (7), 18. Spencer Bayston (8), 19. Ryan Timms (9), 20. Buddy Kofoid (11), 21. Logan Seavey (13), 22. Thomas Meseraull (15), 23. Chris Windom (17), 24. Chase Elliott (19), 25. Kaylee Bryson (21), 26. Ryan Newman (25). NT
STOOPS PURSUIT LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-5 Cole Bodine, Laps 6-23 Kyle Cummins, Laps 24-25 Kyle Larson.
**Riley Kreisel flipped during the eighth heat.
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.
OVERALL PROSOURCE PASSING MASTER POINTS: 1-Tanner Thorson-118, 2-Justin Grant-116, 3-Chris Windom-115, 4-Brady Bacon-111, 5-Thomas Meseraull-103, 6-Robert Ballou-97, 7-Kevin Thomas Jr.-94, 8-Logan Seavey-86, 9-Buddy Kofoid-68, 10-Kyle Cummins-68.
NEXT USAC NOS ENERGY DRINK MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE: August 19, 2021 – The Dirt Track at Indianapolis Motor Speedway – Speedway, Indiana – 1/4-Mile Dirt Oval – Driven2SaveLives BC39 Powered By NOS Energy Drink