By Richie Murray
San Tan Valley, Arizona (November 10, 2021)………Three-hundred-sixty-four nights after arriving at Arizona Speedway’s Western World Championships for his first-ever USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget appearance, Buddy Kofoid became a Western World champion.
That accomplishment was realized in late November 2020 as the Penngrove, Californian led wire-to-wire from his outside front row starting spot, withstanding a steady challenge from Tanner Thorson as well as a late-race restart, to capture the victory in what he described as a “feather in his cap” to win at such a historic event.
One big step in 2019 was followed by major winning step in 2020. Now, this coming Friday and Saturday night, November 12-13, Kofoid looks to take the next leap into becoming a first-time USAC National Midget champion.
Kofoid trails point leader and reigning series champion Chris Windom by 13 points entering this weekend’s two races at San Tan Valley’s 1/3-mile Arizona Speedway for the 54th annual Western World Championships presented by San Tan Ford as the series begins its largest ever year-end western trip for the first two of nine races in a 16-day span.
Though traditionally a sprint car event since its debut in 1968, Western World has become a haven for spectacular midget racing in the Grand Canyon State, with such winners as Lealand McSpadden, Ron Shuman, Jack Yeley, Bryan Clauson, Darren Hagen and Brady Bacon over the past few decades.
This year’s driver lineup boasts three past USAC National Midget feature winners at Arizona Speedway, featuring Kofoid, 2020 opening night winner Tanner Thorson and 2019 opening night victor, Kevin Thomas Jr. In addition to his victory, Kofoid finished fourth in the 2020 Western World midget opener the night prior.
USAC Triple Crown champion, Chris Windom (Canton, Ill.), has won more often at the Western World than any other driver in this weekend’s lineup, with three sprint car wins, including a sweep of the 2016 National Sprint features along with a USAC Southwest Sprint prelim victory that same weekend. He added another USAC Southwest win on the final night of Western World in 2017 as well. In the Midget at Arizona Speedway, Windom finished 7th on both nights of 2019, then was 8th and 4th in two rounds during the 2020 season.
Windom drives for Arizona native Chad Boat, who is the son of a past USAC National Midget winner in the state of Arizona, Billy Boat, who prevailed in a last lap thrash at Phoenix International Raceway in 1996. Joining Windom on the CB Industries team for the western tour are Western World Rookies Ryan Timms (Oklahoma City, Okla.), a 15-time winner in sprint car and midget competition this season, and a recent Trophy Cup final night winner in Tulare, Calif. Twelve-time 2021 micro sprint winner Jade Avedisian (Clovis, Calif.) is also on board for her USAC National Midget debut.
Thorson (Minden, Nev.) was victorious in his Arizona Speedway midget debut in the 2020 Western World opener, capturing the midget feature on the final green-white-checkered restart, in which he started third. The 2016 series champ followed the performance up with a runner-up finish the next night while also setting fast time.
Thomas Jr. (Cullman, Ala.) will make his return to Midget racing at Arizona Speedway this weekend after notching a hard-fought victory in the debut for the series at the track in 2019. He then tallied a 6th place run the following night, adding to his solid weekend.
Just as he did one year ago, Thomas Meseraull (San Jose, Calif.) enters Western World after having won in his last time out in USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget competition at Tri-State Speedway in Haubstadt, Ind. Meseraull also possesses winning experience at Arizona Speedway, having won the Western World Sprint Car opener in the 2017 event. His best Arizona Midget finish thus far is a 12th on the final night in 2020.
Meseraull’s RMS Racing teammate is Justin Grant (Ione, Calif.) is a two-time winner at Arizona, having captured the opening night Western World Sprint Car features in both 2018 and 2020. Grant finished in the 6th position on both nights of midget racing in 2020.
Logan Seavey (Sutter, Calif.) has finished as the runner-up twice in his four previous Western World Midget starts at Arizona Speedway, doing so in the 2019 finale and the 2020 opener. He’s a two-time Western World Midget fast qualifier and is also the one-lap and 12-lap track record holder for USAC Midgets at Arizona. His one-lap time of 15.137 was set on 11/13/2020. The 2018 USAC National Midget champion won at Arizona Speedway with the USAC Southwest Sprint Car series in 2019.
Like his Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports teammate, Buddy Kofoid, Pursley made his first career USAC National Midget start during the 2019 Western World. The Locust Grove, Okla. driver turned around in 2020 and delivered two sensational performances with a 5th in the opener and a 3rd in the finale.
First-time Western World Midget starters in 2020 who are looking to up their scorecard in this weekend’s events are third-place point man, Emerson Axsom (Franklin, Ind.), who was 13th in 2020 and Bixby, Oklahoma’s Cannon McIntosh who stands 10th in the standings and finished 10th in 2020.
KKM teammates Bryant Wiedeman (Colby, Kan.) took 11th on night two of 2020 while Brenham Crouch (Lubbock, Texas) notched a 15th on night one after starting on pole. Kaylee Bryson (Muskogee, Okla.) tallied a 16th on night two of 2020.
Reinbold-Underwood Motorsports teammates Chase Randall and Hayden Reinbold are back for their second year at Western World. Reinbold (Gilbert, Ariz.) scored a 17th while Chase Randall (Waco, Texas) finished 18th and enters the weekend as the leading contender for Rookie of the Year.
First-time Western World entrants include Taylor Reimer (Bixby, Okla.) for KKM along with series veteran Ethan Mitchell (Mooresville, N.C.), plus Kevin Woody Jr. (Victor, N.Y.) in a second Dave Mac Motorsports car, Trevor Casey (Altoona, Iowa) for Mounce-Stout Motorsports and first-time series competitor Jim Vanzant (Prescott, Ariz.).
Eighty-three previous USAC National Midget events have been held in Arizona. In fact, the fourth ever race in series history occurred on March 31, 1956, at South Mountain Speedway in Phoenix, Ariz., a 100-lap feature won by National Midget Auto Racing Hall of Famer Johnnie Tolan, a two-time Rocky Mountain Midget Racing Association champion in 1946-47, AAA Midwest Midget champion in 1950 & 1952, and AAA National Midget champion in 1952.
On Friday, pits open at 1:30pm Mountain time, grandstands at 3pm, drivers meeting at 4:30pm and cars on track at 5:10pm. On Saturday, pits open at 1:30pm Mountain time, grandstands at 3pm, autograph session from 4-4:35pm drivers meeting at 4:45pm and cars on track at 5:10pm.
General admission adult tickets are $30, while kids 11 and under are just $10. Pit passes are $40 for adults and $15 for ages 7-12 and free for ages 6 and under. Western World tickets are on sale now at www.arizonaspeedway.net.
An open practice for sprint cars and midgets will take place on Thursday night, November 11 from 6:30-9:30pm Mountain. Pits open at Noon with a racer and pit crew appreciation BBQ in the pit area featuring free food and drinks set for 5-6pm.
On practice night, adult pit passes are $30, kids 7-12 pit passes are $15 and kids 6 and under pit passes are $15.
Both nights of racing at the Western World Championships can be watched LIVE on FloRacing at https://bit.ly/3frPoW6.
USAC NOS ENERGY DRINK MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Chris Windom-1996, 2-Buddy Kofoid-1983, 3-Emerson Axsom-1840, 4-Daison Pursley-1834, 5-Tanner Thorson-1814, 6-Justin Grant-1796, 7-Logan Seavey-1725, 8-Thomas Meseraull-1627, 9-Kevin Thomas Jr.-1597, 10-Cannon McIntosh-1409.
USAC NATIONAL MIDGET WINS AT ARIZONA SPEEDWAY:
1-Brady Bacon, Buddy Kofoid, Kevin Thomas Jr. & Tanner Thorson
USAC NATIONAL MIDGET WINS IN THE STATE OF ARIZONA:
3-Gary Bettenhausen, Bobby East, Darren Hagen, Tracy Hines, Dave Steele & Tony Stewart
2-Christopher Bell, Merle Bettenhausen, Jimmy Caruthers, Rex Easton, Chuck Gurney, Jason Leffler, Roger McCluskey, Chuck Rodee, Brad Sweet, Johnnie Tolan, Sleepy Tripp & J.J. Yeley
1-Chuck Arnold, Brady Bacon, Tom Bigelow, Billy Boat, Billy Cantrell, Bryan Clauson, Larry Dickson, Dan Drinan, Billy Engelhart, Robby Flock, Stan Fox, A.J. Foyt, Billy Garrett, Rick Goudy, Allen Heath, Parnelli Jones, Buddy Kofoid, Cory Kruseman, Kyle Larson, Michael Lewis, Jerry McClung, Bobby Olivero, Aaron Pollock, Larry Rice, Bobby Santos, Les Scott, Tom Sellberg, Bob Tattersall, Kevin Thomas Jr., Tanner Thorson, Rich Vogler, Billy Vukovich, Bruce Walkup & Bob Wente
TRACK RECORDS FOR USAC NATIONAL MIDGETS AT ARIZONA SPEEDWAY:
1 Lap: 11/13/2020 – Logan Seavey – 15.137 – 79.197 mph
8 Laps: 11/15/2019 – Jesse Colwell – 2:07.777 – 75.056 mph
12 Laps: 11/14/2020 – Logan Seavey – 3:13.982 – 74.160 mph
PAST WESTERN WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS FINAL NIGHT WINNERS:
1968: Bob Cleberg
1969: Bob Huebner
1970: Jerry McClung
1971: Jan Opperman
1972: Jan Opperman
1973: Earl Wagner
1974: Rick Ferkel
1975: Ron Shuman
1976: Bubby Jones
1977: Ron Shuman
1978: Lealand McSpadden
1979: Tim Green
1980: Jeff Swindell
1981: Ron Shuman
1982: Steve Kinser
1983: Steve Kinser
1984: Ron Shuman
1985: Steve Kinser (Sprint) & Lealand McSpadden (Mighty Midgets of Arizona)
1986: Bobby Davis Jr. (Sprint) & Ron Shuman (Mighty Midgets of Arizona)
1987: Steve Kinser (Sprint) & Lealand McSpadden (Mighty Midgets of Arizona)
1988: Mark Kinser (Sprint) & Jack Yeley (Mighty Midgets of Arizona)
1989: Sammy Swindell (Sprint) & Gary Faucett (Midget)
1990: Steve Kinser
1991: Danny Lasoski (410 Sprint), Wayne Bennet (360 Sprint) & Ron Shuman (Arizona Midget Racing Association)
1992: Steve Kinser (410 Sprint), Bob Ream Jr. (360 Sprint) & Bob Broseman (Midget)
1993: Lealand McSpadden
1994: Ron Shuman
1995: Lealand McSpadden (410 Sprint), Ricky Johnson (360 Sprint) & Josh Pelkey (Midget)
1996: Steve Kinser
1997: Mark Kinser
1998: Tyler Walker
1999: Donny Schatz
2000: Jay Drake
2001: Jeremy Sherman
2002: Bud Kaeding (SCRA Sprint) & Jeremy Sherman (360 Sprint)
2003: Tony Elliott (SCRA Sprint) & Jeremy Sherman (360 Sprint)
2004: Bud Kaeding (USAC Sprint) & Josh Ford (360 Sprint)
2005: Dave Darland (USAC Sprint) & Cory Kruseman (360 Sprint)
2006: Josh Wise (USAC Sprint) & Cory Kruseman (360 Sprint)
2007: Jerry Coons Jr. (USAC Sprint) & Cory Kruseman (360 Sprint)
2008: Kevin Swindell (USAC Sprint) & Jesse Hockett (360 Sprint)
2009: Brady Bacon (360 Sprint) & Sammy Swindell (Winged)
2010: Brady Bacon (410 Sprint), R.J. Johnson (360 Sprint) & Donny Schatz (Winged)
2011: Tracy Hines (USAC Sprint) & Donny Schatz (Winged)
2012: Bryan Clauson & Wayne Johnson (Winged)
2013: Bryan Clauson (Sprint Car & USAC Midget)
2014: Matt Rossi (360 Sprint) & Darren Hagen (USAC Midget)
2015: Bryan Clauson (USAC Sprint) & Brody Roa (360 Sprint)
2016: Chris Windom (USAC Sprint) & Brady Bacon (360 Sprint)
2017: Chase Stockon (USAC Sprint) & Chris Windom (360 Sprint)
2018: Tyler Courtney (USAC Sprint) & Brady Bacon (360 Sprint)
2019: Tyler Courtney (USAC Sprint) & Brady Bacon (USAC Midget)
2020: Tyler Courtney (USAC CRA Sprint) & Buddy Kofoid (USAC Midget)
PAST USAC NATIONAL MIDGET FEATURE RESULTS AT ARIZONA SPEEDWAY:
2019 NIGHT #1 FEATURE: (30 laps, starting position in parentheses) 1. Kevin Thomas, Jr. (1), 2. Zeb Wise (3), 3. Tanner Carrick (4), 4. Logan Seavey (6), 5. Carson Macedo (8), 6. Rico Abreu (7), 7. Chris Windom (11), 8. Tyler Courtney (5), 9. Jerry Coons, Jr. (14), 10. Brady Bacon (10), 11. Jason McDougal (15), 12. Gio Scelzi (2), 13. Tucker Klaasmeyer (23), 14. Kyle Cummins (21), 15. Jesse Colwell (19), 16. Cory Elliott (22), 17. Andrew Layser (12), 18. Holley Hollan (20), 19. Robert Dalby (9), 20. Daison Pursley (17), 21. Conor Daly (16), 22. C.J. Sarna (24), 23. Thomas Meseraull (18), 24. Karsyn Elledge (13), 25. Marvin Mitchell (23). NT
2019 NIGHT #2 FEATURE: (30 laps, starting position in parentheses) 1. Brady Bacon (2), 2. Logan Seavey (4), 3. Zeb Wise (1), 4. Tyler Courtney (6), 5. Rico Abreu (18), 6. Kevin Thomas, Jr. (5), 7. Chris Windom (9), 8. Jerry Coons, Jr. (14), 9. Gio Scelzi (8), 10. Tanner Carrick (13), 11. Andrew Layser (11), 12. Daison Pursley (16), 13. Shannon McQueen (22), 14. Holley Hollan (19), 15. Kyle Cummins (17), 16. Noah Gass (23), 17. Conor Daly (20), 18. Karsyn Elledge (7), 19. Jason McDougal (15), 20. Tucker Klaasmeyer (10), 21. Jesse Colwell (3), 22. Buddy Kofoid (12), 23. Thomas Meseraull (21). NT
2020 NIGHT #1 FEATURE: (30 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Tanner Thorson (3), 2. Logan Seavey (6), 3. Tyler Courtney (13), 4. Buddy Kofoid (2), 5. Daison Pursley (4), 6. Justin Grant (9), 7. Tanner Carrick (12), 8. Chris Windom (20), 9. Clinton Boyles (21), 10. Cannon McIntosh (11), 11. Spencer Bayston (5), 12. Bryant Wiedeman (10), 13. Jerry Coons Jr. (17), 14. Emerson Axsom (22), 15. Brenham Crouch (1), 16. Thomas Meseraull (19), 17. Noah Gass (7), 18. Andrew Layser* (23), 19. Cole Bodine (15), 20. Robert Dalby (18), 21. Kaylee Bryson (16), 22. Chase Johnson (14), 23. Chase Randall (8). NT
2020 NIGHT #2 FEATURE: (30 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Buddy Kofoid (2), 2. Tanner Thorson (6), 3. Daison Pursley (16), 4. Chris Windom (5), 5. Spencer Bayston (8), 6. Justin Grant (7), 7. Andrew Layser (13), 8. Logan Seavey (10), 9. Chase Johnson (19), 10. Tanner Carrick (4), 11. Bryant Wiedeman (14), 12. Thomas Meseraull (15), 13. Emerson Axsom (9), 14. Cannon McIntosh (12), 15. Robert Dalby (1), 16. Kaylee Bryson (18), 17. Hayden Reinbold* (23), 18. Chase Randall (11), 19. Noah Gass (20), 20. Brenham Crouch (22), 21. Clinton Boyles (21), 22. Tyler Courtney (3), 23. Cole Bodine (17). NT