From Richie Murray
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (June 3, 2022) — Right now, when it comes to USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Midget competition at Bloomington (Ind.) Speedway, Buddy Kofoid has it on lockdown.
That became readily apparent during Friday night’s USAC Indiana Midget Week opener as he raced to his second consecutive victory in the event, successfully conquering the quarter-mile clay oval which had been the launching pad for his IMW title run of 2021.
Kofoid also became the first reigning Indiana Midget Week titlist to collect an opening night IMW victory the following year since 2005 champ Shane Cottle accomplished the feat in 2006. Cottle’s 2006 win was the springboard he needed to push him toward a back-to-back Indiana Midget Week throne. It’s something Kofoid is very keen on replicating these next nine nights.
But what also became apparent following Friday’s feature was that Kofoid ostensibly has a lockdown of the USAC National Midget series at the moment. In fact, Bloomington marked the Penngrove, California driver’s third consecutive series win dating back to April, matching fellow championship contender Justin Grant’s three-in-a-row streak to start the campaign this season.
Wildly enough, the last season in which two different USAC National Midget drivers have strung together three or more consecutive wins in a single season came all the way back in 1977 when it was accomplished by both Sleepy Tripp and Johnny Parsons. Keep in mind, that came in a 48-race season. At this juncture in 2022, the season is just six races old. We’ve only just begun.
While both of Kofoid’s Bloomington victories have involved scintillating duels, this one was quite different as Kofoid had to track down, then fend off a hungry, aspiring first-time series winner in Chance Crum who put up his dukes and fought the champion right down to the final wire.
Kofoid utilized a fortuitous late-race caution to separate himself from Crum and bring his Keith Kunz-Curb-Agajanian Motorsports/Mobil 1 – Toyota – TRD/Bullet By Spike/Speedway Toyota home to victory. It was Kofoid’s 12th career USAC National Midget win, which moved him into 58th all-time alongside Danny Caruthers, Gene Force, Russ Gamester, Jeff Gordon, Justin Grant, Bobby Grim and Ron Shuman.
“This last stretch of races has been really good to us,” Kofoid understated. “Our speed is really phenomenal right now. But that was a little bit tougher than last year. Just physically, my arm was cramping up and that just wears you out.”
The victory was the 125th for team owner Keith Kunz as a USAC National Midget entrant, moving him one step closer to the all-time win record in that category, held by Steve Lewis at 133.
Six of the last 10 Indiana Midget Week feature wins at Bloomington now belong to the KKM team, which is meticulous in how its personnel prepares, and those notes and tidbits accumulated over time have produced their desired results time and time again.
“Note taking is important at KKM,” Kofoid explained. “I don’t think there’s anyone who takes more notes than those guys. Even down to the tire guys, the car chief and (crew chief) Jarrett (Martin) and I, and all the crew chiefs, we all share notes, and we have our meetings; we’re all-in on notes and how to be better. Once you figure a place out, I think you get it down and I think that goes for anywhere besides our success here. We’ll go back and see how we can be better than tonight.”
Starting back in sixth for the second night in a row, Kofoid wasn’t quite able to get the jump he got less than 24 hours earlier when he charged to first by lap four and won going away at Tri-City Speedway in Granite City, Ill. For more than two-thirds of the $4,000-to-win 30-lapper, Kofoid was mired outside the top-two behind racelong leader Crum and Kyle Cummins.
Kofoid briefly slotted into third at the halfway point as he blitzed around the outside of Cummins between turns one and two. Leading lap 15 at the line by a car length over Cummins, Kofoid lost the number one spot when he sailed it into turn one and stumbled atop the red clay to hand the position back to Cummins.
Capitalizing in much the same manner with nine laps remaining in turn one was Kofoid who took over as Cummins darted to the top of turn one while Kofoid slid by him on the bottom. Cummins found the gumption to rip the position back from Kofoid although it didn’t last much longer as Kofoid blasted back around Cummins in turn two for second with Crum right within a few car lengths of his front bumper with lapped traffic out in front, top, bottom and everywhere in between.
Crum became boxed in off turn two on the bottom with first-time series starter Rylan Gray running the same groove just in front of him while Kofoid had an undisturbed free lane up top, which he used to race past Crum at the exit of turn two with seven to go.
With four laps remaining, Crum discovered his second wind and boldly tossed his car through the middle of turn one. On the outside was Kofoid, who once again encountered trouble atop the cush, which opened the door for Crum to go by him underneath for the lead. Crum split between the lapped cars of Gray and Hayden Reinbold on the back straightaway to give himself a little bit of extra breathing room when Reinbold, running just behind Crum, hit the topside edge of the track surface between turns three and four, teetering over it and spinning to a stop to bring out the first and only caution of the night.
Before the lap was complete, however, the yellow flag was displayed, meaning the race reverted to the last completed lap, which put Kofoid back in front of Crum with a scot-free vantage point of the track sans any inkling of traffic. In that scenario, Kofoid wouldn’t be caught as he finished up his victorious performance by a 1.338 second margin over Crum who edged Cummins for second while Kaylee Bryson took fourth and Justin Grant fifth, which was his seventh consecutive top-five result with the series to begin the 2022 season.
It was a phenomenal effort by Snohomish, Washington’s Crum who led a race-high 24 laps and finished with a career-best USAC National Midget result of 2nd in his Rudeen Racing/Hager Realty Services – Rayce Rudeen Foundation/Spike/Speedway Toyota.
“I’m really happy to get 2nd, but dang it, I didn’t want that yellow,” Crum exclaimed. “I was trying to move around in traffic, and I couldn’t really decide if it was better to run the slider or the bottom. Then, he just got me. To finish second with Buddy and Kyle right there behind me is definitely a cool night. Overall, it was a good night and I’m pretty happy with it.”
Princeton, Indiana’s Kyle Cummins was in the thick of the hunt all night, running inside the top-three throughout the entire fight before winding up third for his best career Bloomington Speedway Indiana Midget Week finish in his Glenn Styres Racing/Ohsweken Speedway – ENRIAM – Elite – QuickCar/Spike/Stanton SR-11x.
“We’ve kind of struggled with the midget thing a little bit and we decided, ‘hey, let’s throw something at it,’” Cummins recalled. “Then, I found out I was on the pole. It actually worked really good though. Depending on how lapped traffic went before that caution, I felt like I just found a bit of something and maybe was going to at least battle with them if they slip up, but once he got to the lead there on the restart, he could run the top better than anybody.”
Thomas Meseraull’s car Jumped out of gear during qualifying and the team immediately went to work to replace the rear-end to start the evening off. The San Jose, Californian started 22nd in the feature and finished 10th in his RMS Racing/EnviroFab – Response Management Services – Engler Machine/Spike/Speedway Toyota. His efforts earned him a $100 bonus as the hard charger courtesy of Irvin King.
USAC NOS ENERGY DRINK MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: June 3, 2022 – Bloomington Speedway – Bloomington, Indiana – 1/4-Mile Dirt Track – 18th Annual Indiana Midget Week
FATHEADZ EYEWEAR QUALIFYING: 1. Justin Grant, 2J, RMS-11.974; 2. Buddy Kofoid, 67, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-11.993; 3. Jacob Denney, 61, Mounce/Stout-12.026; 4. Taylor Reimer, 25K, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-12.031; 5. Kaylee Bryson, 71, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-12.036; 6. Chance Crum, 26, Rudeen-12.061; 7. Jace Park, 87, CBI-12.093; 8. Kyle Cummins, 3G, Styres-12.123; 9. Bryant Wiedeman, 01, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-12.127; 10. Jason McDougal, 19, Reinbold/Underwood-12.134; 11. Mitchel Moles, 89, CBI-12.135; 12. Jade Avedisian, 84, CBI-12.174; 13. Brenham Crouch, 97, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-12.183; 14. Brady Bacon, 21H, TKH-12.206; 15. Hayden Reinbold, 19AZ, Reinbold/Underwood-12.219; 16. Logan Seavey, 25, Malloy-12.222; 17. Cannon McIntosh, 08, Dave Mac-12.225; 18. Dominic Gorden, 83, CBI-12.286; 19. Ethan Mitchell, 9m, Bundy Built-12.298; 20. Maria Cofer, 57, Abacus-12.310; 21. Blake Brannon, 40B, Western Speed-12.319; 22. Sam Johnson, 72J, Johnson-12.346; 23. Bryan Stanfill, 75AU, Griffiths-12.346; 24. Rylan Gray, 06, Gray-12.356; 25. Mariah Ede, 71E, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-12.379; 26. Chase McDermand, 40, Mounce/Stout-12.392; 27. Steve Buckwalter, 25B, Buckwalter-12.422; 28. Travis Buckley, 7NZ, BSL-12.478; 29. Cade Lewis, 71m, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-12.951; 30. Justin Dickerson, 21D, Dickerson-12.957; 31. Thomas Meseraull, 7x, RMS-NT; 32. Mike Griffiths, 75, Griffiths-NT.
SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS FIRST HEAT: (10 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Cannon McIntosh, 2. Justin Grant, 3. Kaylee Bryson, 4. Brenham Crouch, 5. Bryant Wiedeman, 6. Cade Lewis, 7. Mariah Ede, 8. Blake Brannon. 2:04.06
COMPETITION SUSPENSION (CSI) SECOND HEAT: (10 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Buddy Kofoid, 2. Jason McDougal, 3. Sam Johnson, 4. Chance Crum, 5. Brady Bacon, 6. Chase McDermand, 7. Dominic Gorden, 8. Justin Dickerson. 2:05.17
PIT STOP USA THIRD HEAT: (10 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Ethan Mitchell, 2. Mitchel Moles, 3. Jacob Denney, 4. Thomas Meseraull, 5. Jace Park, 6. Bryan Stanfill, 7. Hayden Reinbold, 8. Steve Buckwalter. 2:05.75
ROD END SUPPLY FOURTH HEAT: (10 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Logan Seavey, 2. Kyle Cummins, 3. Maria Cofer, 4. Jade Avedisian, 5. Rylan Gray, 6. Travis Buckley, 7. Taylor Reimer. 2:04.91
ELLIOTT’S CUSTOM TRAILERS & CARTS SEMI: (12 laps, top-6 transfer to the feature) 1. Jace Park, 2. Brady Bacon, 3. Taylor Reimer, 4. Rylan Gray, 5. Bryant Wiedeman, 6. Dominic Gorden, 7. Chase McDermand, 8. Mariah Ede, 9. Hayden Reinbold, 10. Blake Brannon, 11. Bryan Stanfill, 12. Cade Lewis, 13. Travis Buckley, 14. Steve Buckwalter. 2:34.86
FEATURE: (30 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Buddy Kofoid (5), 2. Chance Crum (2), 3. Kyle Cummins (1), 4. Kaylee Bryson (3), 5. Justin Grant (6), 6. Bryant Wiedeman (12), 7. Cannon McIntosh (8), 8. Jacob Denney (4), 9. Mitchel Moles (14), 10. Thomas Meseraull (22), 11. Taylor Reimer (10), 12. Brady Bacon (17), 13. Ethan Mitchell (9), 14. Dominic Gorden (18), 15. Maria Cofer (19), 16. Brenham Crouch (16), 17. Jade Avedisian (15), 18. Sam Johnson (20), 19. Rylan Gray (21), 20. Jace Park (11), 21. Hayden Reinbold (P-23), 22. Jason McDougal (13), 23. Logan Seavey (7). NT
(P) represents a provisional feature starter.
**Taylor Reimer flipped during the fourth heat.
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-24 Chance Crum, Laps 25-30 Buddy Kofoid.
USAC NOS ENERGY DRINK MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Buddy Kofoid-467, 2-Justin Grant-445, 3-Cannon McIntosh-358, 4-Bryant Wiedeman-344, 5-Mitchel Moles-342, 6-Thomas Meseraull-324, 7-Kaylee Bryson-316, 8-Logan Seavey-289, 9-Taylor Reimer-235, 10-Ethan Mitchell-231.
USAC INDIANA MIDGET WEEK POINTS: 1-Buddy Kofoid-83, 2-Chance Crum-73, 3-Kyle Cummins-71, 4-Justin Grant-71, 5-Kaylee Bryson-69, 6-Cannon McIntosh-60, 7-Jacob Denney-59, 8-Bryant Wiedeman-56, 9-Mitchel Moles-53, 10-Thomas Meseraull-48.
OVERALL PROSOURCE PASSING MASTER POINTS: 1-Buddy Kofoid-35, 2-Thomas Meseraull-32, 3-Robert Ballou-31, 4-Brady Bacon-30, 5-Mario Clouser-29, 6-Jadon Rogers-27, 7-Tanner Thorson-25, 8-Justin Grant-21, 9-Logan Seavey-21, 10-Jason McDougal-20.
NEXT USAC NOS ENERGY DRINK MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE: June 4, 2022 – Lawrenceburg Speedway – Lawrenceburg, Indiana – 3/8-Mile Dirt Track – 18th Annual Indiana Midget Week
CONTINGENCY AWARD WINNERS:
Fatheadz Eyewear Fast Qualifier: Justin Grant
Simpson Race Products First Heat Winner: Cannon McIntosh
Competition Suspension, Inc. Second Heat Winner: Buddy Kofoid
Pit Stop USA Third Heat Winner: Ethan Mitchell
Rod End Supply Fourth Heat Winner: Logan Seavey
Elliott’s Custom Trailers & Carts Semi Winner: Jace Park
Irvin King Hard Charger: Thomas Meseraull (22nd to 10th)
Dirt Draft Hot Laps Fastest Driver: Buddy Kofoid