By Richie Murray
Gas City, Indiana (September 21, 2021)………For Cannon McIntosh, last September began and closed in very much the same manner – with a victory in the USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship ranks.
The second of those, and the most recent, came last September at Indiana’s Gas City I-69 Speedway. Oh, what Cannon would give to be back in victory lane for the first time since that moment in time, a whole calendar year later, during this Thursday night’s James Dean Classic at Gas City on September 23 in a doubleheader program also featuring the USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship.
The Bixby, Oklahoma native started his 30-lap feature from the fourth position, but he wasn’t long for staying content with his position for as he blasted to the second spot on the opening lap by splitting between the two front row occupants.
The pursuit of Pursley by McIntosh came to a head on the second lap when McIntosh showed a nose to Pursley while entering on the bottom of turn one. Pursley slid up just a tad at the exit of turn two and McIntosh powered past to occupy the race lead.
Still up nearly two seconds as the race’s end approached, McIntosh possessed total control, keeping his car as straight as possible coming off turns two and four on the slightly slickened surface, gliding smoothly through traffic as he raced his way to his third career USAC National Midget feature win by a grand margin of 1.791 seconds.
McIntosh is one of five past Gas City USAC National Midget winners in the field for Thursday night along with Tanner Thorson, Spencer Bayston, Justin Grant and Buddy Kofoid.
Kofoid (Penngrove, Calif.) is the most recent series winner at Gas City, capturing the Indiana Midget Week round in June after leading all 30 laps. In last year’s James Dean Classic, starting deep from the 18th position, the current series point leader carved his way up to a 7th place finish.
Thorson (Minden, Nev.) won his first career USAC National Midget feature at Gas City in 2015. The 2016 series champion went 17th to 4th during the 2020 James Dean Classic to earn KSE Racing Products Hard Charger honors and was a big mover once again this past June during Indiana Midget Week at Gas City, going 20th to 8th.
Grant (Ione, Calif.) is both a winner in USAC National Midget competition and is also a past James Dean Classic feature winner. The reigning USAC Silver Crown champion netted an Indiana Midget Week win at Gas City in 2019 and captured the Sprint Car portion of the “James Dean” in 2020.
Making his first Gas City USAC National Midget appearance since 2017 is Spencer Bayston in a CB Industries team car to Windom. Bayston (Lebanon, Ind.), the 2017 USAC National Midget champ, won his first career series race at Gas City in 2016.
Defending USAC National Midget champion Chris Windom is also the defending winner of the James Dean Classic…in a sprint car. The Canton, Ill. USAC Triple Crown champ was 9th in the midget at the James Dean Classic a year ago.
Likewise, Kevin Thomas Jr. has captured his share of James Dean Classic glory, taking the inaugural edition in the sprint car back in 2018. Thomas (Cullman, Ala.) finished 6th during Indiana Midget Week this past June. He’s a two-time USAC National Sprint Car feature winner in his career at Gas City, getting his first at the 1/4-mile dirt oval in 2013.
Logan Seavey (Sutter, Calif.) was victorious in the most recent USAC National Sprint Car race held at Gas City during Indiana Sprint Week in July of 2021. He earlier scored a USAC Sprint win during the same event in 2020. With the midget in the 2020 James Dean Classic, he finished 13th. He started 11th and finished with an admirable 3rd during Indiana Midget Week in 2021.
Tyler Courtney returns to the USAC National Midget ranks for the second time this season. The series championship in 2019 set quick time in the midget at the 2020 James Dean Classic before finishing 2nd in the feature. The Indianapolis, Ind. driver holds the 10-lap Gas City USAC Midget track record of 2:05.54, set in 2019. His first career USAC National Sprint Car win came at Gas City in 2016 when he restarted last on the grid and came back to win.
Thomas Meseraull and Chance Crum both possess USAC Midwest Regional Midget wins at Gas City in 2021. Meseraull (San Jose, Calif.) scored in May while Crum locked up the win in July. Meseraull, the 2019 Gas City Sprint Car champ, finished 15th in the midget at the 2020 James Dean Classic, but was 10th during Indiana Midget Week in June.
Kyle Cummins (Princeton, Ind.) traveled 11th to 3rd during the James Dean Classic Midget feature in 2020. Emerson Axsom (Franklin, Ind.) went top-five a year ago in the race, finishing 5th, and was 2nd here in June of 2021. Jason McDougal (Broken Arrow, Okla.) has twice been a USAC National Midget feature winner in his career. He started from the pole this past June at Gas City.
Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports teammates Daison Pursley and Kaylee Bryson each own one James Dean Classic start, both in 2020. Pursley (Locust Grove, Okla.) went 8th in that race while Bryson (Muskogee, Okla.) tallied a 19th. Both were top-ten finishers this past June during IMW with Pursley 4th and Bryson 9th.
Chase Randall, Hayden Reinbold, Bryant Wiedeman and Brenham Crouch were among those who made their first USAC National Midget appearance at the James Dean Classic in 2020. Randall (Waco, Texas) finished 20th while Reinbold (Gilbert, Ariz.) took 22nd. Wiedeman (Colby, Kan.) and Crouch (Lubbock, Texas) missed the transfer spot a year ago, but returned to the lineup this past June at Gas City with Wiedeman finishing 23rd and Crouch 16th.
Glenn Waterland (Christchurch, N.Z.) has made four USAC National Midget starts this year and was 9th in USAC Midwest Regional action at the track in July. Austin Barnhill (Wilmington, N.C.) recently made the first three feature starts of his USAC National Midget career two weeks ago at South Dakota’s Huset’s Speedway and will be making his James Dean Classic debut this Thursday night.
In a doubleheader with the USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship at Gas City on Thursday, Sept. 23, adult general admission tickets are $30. Kids 12 and under are free. Pit passes are $30 for members and $35 for non-members. Pit gates open at 3pm ET with the grandstands opening at 5pm, drivers meeting at 5:45pm and hot laps at 6:30pm with qualifying and racing immediately following.
Thursday’s event from Gas City can be watched LIVE on FloRacing at https://bit.ly/3frPoW6.
USAC NOS ENERGY DRINK MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Buddy Kofoid-1799, 2-Chris Windom-1789, 3-Emerson Axsom-1705, 4-Daison Pursley-1655, 5-Tanner Thorson-1651, 6-Justin Grant-1633, 7-Logan Seavey-1520, 8-Thomas Meseraull-1471, 9-Kevin Thomas Jr.-1450, 10-Cannon McIntosh-1288.
TRACK RECORDS FOR USAC NATIONAL MIDGETS AT GAS CITY I-69 SPEEDWAY:
1 Lap – 6/1/2016 – Rico Abreu – 12.048 – 74.701 mph
8 Laps – 6/10/2011 – Matt Smith – 1:39.76 – 72.173 mph
10 Laps – 6/5/2019 – Tyler Courtney – 2:05.54 – 71.690 mph
12 Laps – 6/17/2020 – Rico Abreu – 2:43.872 – 65.905 mph
JAMES DEAN CLASSIC USAC NATIONAL MIDGET WINS AT GAS CITY I-69 SPEEDWAY:
JAMES DEAN CLASSIC USAC NATIONAL MIDGET WINNERS AT GAS CITY I-69 SPEEDWAY:
2020: Cannon McIntosh (9/25)
USAC NATIONAL MIDGET WINS AT GAS CITY I-69 SPEEDWAY:
2-Shane Cottle, Darren Hagen & Kyle Larson
1-Spencer Bayston, Steve Buckwalter, Jerry Coons Jr., Justin Grant, Buddy Kofoid, Brad Kuhn, Cannon McIntosh, Michael Pickens, Davey Ray & Tanner Thorson
USAC NATIONAL MIDGET WINNERS AT GAS CITY I-69 SPEEDWAY:
2005: Davey Ray (8/19)
2006: Shane Cottle (8/18)
2007: Shane Cottle (8/10)
2008: Brad Kuhn (8/6)
2009: Jerry Coons Jr. (6/10)
2010: Steve Buckwalter (6/16)
2011: Darren Hagen (6/8)
2012: Darren Hagen (6/13)
2013: Kyle Larson (6/12)
2015: Tanner Thorson (6/10)
2016: Spencer Bayston (6/1)
2017: Michael Pickens (6/7)
2019: Justin Grant (6/5)
2020: Kyle Larson (6/17) & Cannon McIntosh (9/25)
2021: Buddy Kofoid (6/11)
PAST JAMES DEAN CLASSIC USAC NATIONAL MIDGET RESULTS:
2020 FEATURE: (30 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Cannon McIntosh (4), 2. Tyler Courtney (6), 3. Kyle Cummins (11), 4. Tanner Thorson (17), 5. Emerson Axsom (5), 6. Justin Grant (8), 7. Buddy Kofoid (18), 8. Daison Pursley (1), 9. Chris Windom (15), 10. Tanner Carrick (13), 11. Brady Bacon (22), 12. Andrew Layser (9), 13. Logan Seavey (14), 14. Clinton Boyles (19), 15. Thomas Meseraull (7), 16. Chase Johnson (2), 17. Cole Bodine (10), 18. Robert Dalby (21), 19. Kaylee Bryson (20), 20. Chase Randall (16), 21. Tyler Nelson (12), 22. Hayden Reinbold (23*), 23. Ethan Mitchell (3). NT