Kokomo Grand Prixview: USAC Midgets Sling it at Kokomo this Weekend

By: Richie Murray – USAC Media

Kokomo, Indiana (April 28, 2021)………It’s been two years since we’ve experienced the Kokomo Grand Prix - two heart palpitating, intensely, outrageous nights of USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget racing packed into one weekend, on Friday, April 30 and Saturday, May 1, at a venue, Kokomo Speedway, which has routinely delivered many of the most memorable races from start-to-finish since the series debuted at the quarter-mile in 1956.

Take for example the most recent Kokomo Grand Prix showdown we witnessed in April 2019. Following an incident on the final lap of the Kokomo Sprint Car race that preceded the Midget feature, perhaps it was fate that Kevin Thomas, Jr. and Justin Grant met again in some form or fashion.

Justin Grant got the best of Thomas in the sprint tilt, picking up the victory following a last-lap, side-by-side battle that wound up with Thomas on his head on the back straightaway before Thomas hurriedly made a beeline to the opposite end of the track to confront Grant.

When cooler heads prevailed, as luck would have it, a look at the starting lineup showed the same two drivers starting side-by-side in the second row of the midget main, setting the stage for round two of the duel which once again came down to the final lap, but this time with the outcome the mirror opposite.

KTJ ran down Grant late in the going and, on the final corner of the final lap, reversed his fortunes with redemption, nipping Grant by half a front wheel at the stripe – or 0.015 seconds to be precise.

Thomas (Cullman, Ala.) hopes what would be his 100th career USAC National Midget start this weekend will be equally memorable in a pair of shows, each of which pay $4,000-to-win. He currently stands at 99. The 2016 Kokomo Sprint Car track champ has found victory lane numerous times at the track over the years, including twice in USAC Midgets in the Indiana Midget Week round of 2018 and the KGP in 2019.

At the Kokomo GP alone, Thomas has also had a 4th on night one of 2017; 5th place runs in 2017 and 2019, plus 6th place results on both nights in 2014 and a 10th in 2018. He’s also led each of the past two Kokomo GP features, pacing the field for 14 circuits on night one and the final lap on night two in 2019. He led five back in 2014.

Thomas is the lone past Kokomo Grand Prix winner expected to compete in this year’s event. However, a number of other challengers have previously found their share of successes in USAC Midget competition at Kokomo: Chris Windom and Tanner Thorson.

Windom (Canton, Ill.) won the most recent series race at Kokomo in Sept. 2020 after starting 14th. The 2018 Kokomo Sprint Car track titlist is the only driver to lead laps in both of last year’s USAC Midget features at Kokomo, notching nine in June of 2020 and the final eight in September later in the season. His best KGP result came in 2019 where he finished 3rd, to go along with a 4th in 2014, a 6th in 2019 and a 7th in 2017. He also corralled a USAC Regional Midget win at Kokomo in 2016.

Thorson (Minden, Nev.) is on a roll in everything USAC related. He enters Kokomo this weekend as the most recent USAC National Midget winner on April 11 at Port City Raceway in Tulsa, Okla. and has been victorious in two of his three most recent USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car starts last weekend. He also won at Kokomo in USAC Midget in June of 2020 and was the Fatheadz Eyewear Fast Qualifier in Sept. 2020. His KGP results have been stellar with runner-up finishes in 2014 and 2017, and a pair of 3rd places in 2015 and 2017. The 2016 USAC National Midget champion finished 10th in the first ever KGP in 2014 and led six laps back in 2017.

Justin Grant (Ione, Calif.) came oh-so-close to a first USAC National Midget win at Kokomo on the final night of the Grand Prix in 2019, leading a race-high 22 laps until Kevin Thomas Jr. slid his way past on the final corner of the final lap for the victory. The two-time Kokomo Sprint Car champ in 2017 and 2019 also took a 5th in the midget in 2018 and 6th in 2017.

Thomas Meseraull (San Jose, Calif.), a USAC National Midget winner at Ocala earlier this February recently picked up a USAC Regional Midget victory at Kokomo in Oct. of 2020 during the Kokomo Klash. Meseraull finished a best of 7th at the Kokomo GP in 2019 and was the hard charger in 2018, moving from 16th to 8th. He collected another top-10 with a 10th in the 2019 KGP.

Jason McDougal (Broken Arrow, Okla.) made two successful appearances at the Kokomo GP in 2019, finishing 2nd on night one and 4th on night two after leading the first seven laps. After making his first four starts of the season for Robert Dalby Motorsports, McDougal will be making the jump over to RAMS Racing for Kokomo GP weekend as a teammate to Clinton Boyles (Greenwood, Mo.), a 4th place finisher himself at Kokomo during the Indiana Midget Week round in 2020.

Logan Seavey (Sutter, Calif.) owns three top-ten finishes at the Kokomo Grand Prix, bested by a 6th on night one of 2019. The 2018 USAC National Midget champion also garnered an 8th on night two of 2019 and, in his first ever KGP appearance in 2018, he led 10 laps and finished 7th.

Several drivers are aiming to make their first Kokomo Grand Prix feature starts, including USAC National Midget point leader Buddy Kofoid. The Penngrove, Calif. native is the only multi-time winner of the season with the series, taking victories at both Ocala and Port City. Another victory this weekend would make him the first driver ever to win races at the first three venues on the USAC National Midget schedule in a season. Last year’s series Rookie of the Year has made two Kokomo USAC National Midget starts at Kokomo, both in 2020, taking 10th in June and 5th in Sept.

Ethan Mitchell (Mooresville, N.C.) enters the Kokomo GP on the heels of his best career USAC National Midget feature result, a 3rd on April 11 at Port City. His lone Kokomo Grand Prix start resulted in an 18th place finish on night one of 2019.

In addition to Kofoid, drivers with Kokomo USAC Midget experience, but none yet at the Kokomo GP, also include three-time Kokomo USAC Sprint winner Kyle Cummins (Princeton, Ind.), 5th during Indiana Midget Week at Kokomo in June 2020; plus Cannon McIntosh (Bixby, Okla.) 4th in Sept. 2020; Daison Pursley (Locust Grove, Okla.), a heat winner and 11th place finisher in Sept. 2020; Emerson Axsom (Franklin, Ind.), 17th in Sept. 2020; and series veteran Sam Johnson (St. Peters, Mo.).

Rookie of the Year contenders who have Kokomo USAC Midget experience include the leading Rookie in the standings at the moment, Bryant Wiedeman (Colby, Kan.), 14th in Sept. 2020; Chase Randall (Waco, Texas), 19th in Sept. 2020; Brenham Crouch (Lubbock, Texas), 12th in Sept. 2020; and Hayden Reinbold (Gilbert, Ariz.), 22nd in Sept. 2020. Fellow Rookie Brian Carber (Pipersville, Pa.) will make his Kokomo debut after finishing 2nd in his first ever series start at Port City in April.

Advance tickets are available for sale right now at www.TracPass.com. Tickets will also be available at the gate on both race days.

On Friday at Kokomo, all gates open at 3pm ET, drivers meeting at 6pm and cars on track at 6:30pm. Adult general admission tickets are $20 & kids 12 and under are free. USAC member pit passes are $30 apiece and $35 for non-members.

On Saturday, all gates open at 3pm ET, drivers meeting at 5pm and cars on track at 5:30pm. Adult general admission tickets are $20 & kids 12 and under are free. USAC member pit passes are $30 apiece and $35 for non-members.

Both nights of the Kokomo Grand Prix will air LIVE on FloRacing at https://bit.ly/3frPoW6.

USAC NOS ENERGY DRINK MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Buddy Kofoid-295, 2-Thomas Meseraull-288, 3-Tanner Thorson-281, 4-Justin Grant-276, 5-Chris Windom-270, 6-Jason McDougal-234, 7-Emerson Axsom-233, 8-Daison Pursley-221, 9-Cannon McIntosh-192, 10-Logan Seavey-190.

TRACK RECORDS FOR USAC NATIONAL MIDGETS AT KOKOMO SPEEDWAY:
1 Lap - 4/5/2019 - Dillon Welch - 12.665 - 71.062 mph
8 Laps - 6/20/2010 - Steve Buckwalter - 1:51.62 - 64.505 mph
10 Laps - 4/5/2019 - Tanner Carrick - 2:10.06 - 69.199 mph
12 Laps - 4/13/2018 - Holly Shelton - 2:46.01 - 65.056 mph

KOKOMO GRAND PRIX WINNERS:
2014: Rico Abreu (4/11) & Rico Abreu (4/12)
2015: Darren Hagen (4/11)
2016: Rained Out
2017: Brady Bacon (4/8) & Brady Bacon (4/9)
2018: Tyler Courtney (4/13)
2019: Tyler Courtney (4/5) & Kevin Thomas Jr. (4/6)
2020: COVID-19 Out

KOKOMO GRAND PRIX WINS:
2-Rico Abreu, Brady Bacon & Tyler Courtney
1-Darren Hagen & Kevin Thomas Jr.
KOKOMO USAC NATIONAL MIDGET WINS:
7-Rich Vogler
6-Mel Kenyon
3-Rico Abreu, Brady Bacon, Bryan Clauson, Jimmy Davies & Bob Wente
2-Chuck Arnold, Tyler Courtney, Bobby Grim, Page Jones, Mike McGreevy, Ken Schrader, Bob Tattersall & Kevin Thomas, Jr.
1-Tommy Astone, Spencer Bayston, Christopher Bell, Tom Bigelow, Bud Bogard, Frank Burany, Pancho Carter, Danny Caruthers, Jimmy Caruthers, Tommy Copp, Rex Easton, Tony Elliott, Billy Engelhart, Gene Force, Darren Hagen, Gene Hartley, Jack Hewitt, Tracy Hines, Brad Kuhn, Lee Kunzman, Kyle Larson, Critter Malone, Don Meacham, Jerry Nuckles, Forrest Parker, Michael Pickens, Ron Shuman, Graham Standring, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Mike Streicher, Dave Strickland, Len Sutton, Shorty Templeman, Tanner Thorson, Sleepy Tripp, Jerry Weeks, Chris Windom & J.J. Yeley

KOKOMO USAC NATIONAL MIDGET WINNERS:
1956: Forrest Parker (7/28)
1957: Len Sutton (6/23) & Rex Easton (8/17)
1958: Frank Burany (5/24)
1959: Gene Force (5/29) & Shorty Templeman (7/12)
1960: Jimmy Davies (5/29), Bod Bogard (6/25), Gene Hartley (7/24) & Bob Wente (8/13)
1961: Jimmy Davies (5/29) & Jimmy Davies (7/30)
1962: Tommy Copp (6/30) & Bob Tattersall (7/29)
1964: Bob Wente (7/11)
1965: Mel Kenyon (5/30), Bobby Grim (6/26) & Bobby Grim (7/24)
1966: Chuck Arnold (5/29) & Bob Tattersall (8/27)
1967: Mike McGreevy (5/29), Chuck Arnold (6/17) & Mike McGreevy (7/22)
1968: Bob Wente (6/30) & Don Meacham (7/21)
1969: Lee Kunzman (5/31)
1970: Dave Strickland (5/30) & Tom Bigelow (8/1)
1971: Danny Caruthers (7/16) & Jimmy Caruthers (8/7)
1972: Pancho Carter (8/26)
1973: Billy Engelhart (7/14)
1975: Sleepy Tripp (7/9)
1976: Tommy Astone (7/7)
1977: Mel Kenyon (7/13)
1978: Ron Shuman (8/23) & Jerry Weeks (8/23)
1979: Mel Kenyon (6/14) & Mel Kenyon (7/11)
1980: Rich Vogler (6/11) & Rich Vogler (7/10)
1981: Rich Vogler (6/10) & Ken Schrader (7/8)
1982: Ken Schrader (6/10) & Mel Kenyon (7/7)
1983: Rich Vogler (6/8) & Rich Vogler (7/13)
1984: Jerry Nuckles (6/6)
1985: Rich Vogler (6/29)
1987: Mel Kenyon (6/24)
1988: Mike Streicher (6/22) & Rich Vogler (8/17)
1990: Graham Standring (8/8)
1991: Jack Hewitt (8/7)
1992: Page Jones (8/19)
1993: Critter Malone (8/11)
1994: Page Jones (7/27)
1995: Tony Elliott (8/23)
2000: Tracy Hines (8/27)
2003: J.J. Yeley (6/15)
2006: Brady Bacon (8/20)
2007: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (8/12)
2008: Bryan Clauson (8/10)
2009: Bryan Clauson (6/14)
2010: Brad Kuhn (6/20)
2011: Michael Pickens (6/12)
2012: Kyle Larson (6/17)
2013: Christopher Bell (6/16)
2014: Rico Abreu (4/11), Rico Abreu (4/12) & Bryan Clauson (6/15)
2015: Darren Hagen (4/11)
2016: Rico Abreu (6/5)
2017: Brady Bacon (4/8), Brady Bacon (4/9) & Spencer Bayston (6/11)
2018: Tyler Courtney (4/13) & Kevin Thomas Jr. (6/3)
2019: Tyler Courtney (4/5) & Kevin Thomas Jr. (4/6)
2020: Tanner Thorson (6/21) & Chris Windom (9/26)

PAST KOKOMO GRAND PRIX RESULTS:
2014 NIGHT #1 FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Rico Abreu, 2. Dave Darland, 3. Christopher Bell, 4. Chris Windom, 5. Tracy Hines, 6. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 7. Bryan Clauson, 8. Zach Daum, 9. Shane Hollingsworth, 10. Tanner Thorson, 11. Jerry Coons, Jr., 12. Andrew Felker, 13. Parker Price-Miller, 14. Tyler Thomas, 15. Tyler Courtney, 16. Davey Ray, 17. Daniel Robinson, 18. Austin Brown, 19. Darren Hagen, 20. Shane Cottle, 21. Justin Peck, 22. Taylor Ferns, 23. Spencer Bayston, 24. Seth Motsinger, 25. Alex Bright, 26. Colten Cottle. NT

2014 NIGHT #2 FEATURE: (40 laps) 1. Rico Abreu, 2. Tanner Thorson, 3. Christopher Bell, 4. Tracy Hines, 5. Tyler Thomas, 6. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 7. Andrew Felker, 8. Zach Daum, 9. Parker Price-Miller, 10. Shane Hollingsworth, 11. Colten Cottle, 12. Tyler Courtney, 13. Seth Motsinger, 14. Davey Ray, 15. Chris Windom, 16. Bryan Clauson, 17. Michael Pickens, 18. Darren Hagen, 19. Alex Bright, 20. Steve Buckwalter, 21. Jake Blackhurst, 22. Dave Darland, 23. Austin Brown, 24. Caleb Armstrong, 25. Brady Bacon, 26. Spencer Bayston. NT

2015 FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Darren Hagen, 2. Tracy Hines, 3. Tanner Thorson, 4. Steve Buckwalter, 5. Davey Ray, 6. Andrew Felker, 7. Dave Darland, 8. Tyler Thomas, 9. Jerry Coons Jr., 10. Tyler Courtney, 11. Shane Hollingsworth, 12. Gage Walker, 13. Zach Daum, 14. Isaac Chapple, 15. Spencer Bayston, 16. Justin Grant, 17. Jim Radney, 18. Tucker Klaasmeyer, 19. Ryan Greth, 20. Kevin Thomas Jr., 21. Alex Bright, 22. Justin Peck. NT

2017 NIGHT #1 FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Brady Bacon, 2. Spencer Bayston, 3. Tanner Thorson, 4. Kevin Thomas Jr., 5. Jerry Coons Jr., 6. Justin Grant, 7. Chris Windom, 8. Tyler Thomas, 9. Dave Darland, 10. Ryan Robinson, 11. Chad Boat, 12. Holly Shelton, 13. Gage Walker, 14. Alex Bright, 15. Tucker Klaasmeyer, 16. Jake Neuman, 17. Tanner Carrick, 18. Brayton Lynch, 19. Tyler Nelson, 20. Shane Golobic. NT

2017 NIGHT #2 FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Brady Bacon, 2. Tanner Thorson, 3. Tyler Courtney, 4. Rico Abreu, 5. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 6. Spencer Bayston, 7. Dave Darland, 8. Shane Golobic, 9. Ryan Robinson, 10. Holly Shelton, 11. Davey Ray, 12. Jerry Coons, Jr., 13. Alex Bright, 14. Tyler Thomas, 15. Tyler Nelson, 16. Jake Neuman, 17. Brayton Lynch, 18. Ryan Greth, 19. Chad Boat, 20. Justin Grant, 21. Chris Windom, 22. Chase Jones, 23. Tanner Carrick. NT

2018 FEATURE: (30 laps, starting position in parentheses) 1. Tyler Courtney (5), 2. Chad Boat (8), 3. Brady Bacon (7), 4. Spencer Bayston (3), 5. Justin Grant (6), 6. Zeb Wise (12), 7. Logan Seavey (2), 8. Thomas Meseraull (16), 9. Ryan Robinson (4), 10. Kevin Thomas Jr. (1), 11. Holly Shelton (9), 12. Tucker Klaasmeyer (13), 13. Dave Darland (20), 14. Andrew Felker (17), 15. Jerry Coons Jr. (18), 16. Brayton Lynch (15), 17. Tanner Carrick (10), 18. Kyle Craker (14), 19. Gage Walker (23). 20. Alex Bright (21), 21. Tyler Thomas (11), 22. Chase Jones (22), 23. Kyle Schuett (19), 24. Matt Moore (24). NT

2019 NIGHT #1 FEATURE: (30 laps, starting position in parentheses) 1. Tyler Courtney (6), 2. Jason McDougal (3), Chris Windom (4), 4. Zeb Wise (12), 5. Kevin Thomas, Jr. (1), 6. Logan Seavey (8), 7. Thomas Meseraull (2), 8. Dillon Welch (7), 9. C.J. Leary (5), 10. Tanner Carrick (16), 11. Dave Darland (21), 12. Chad Boat (10), 13. Tyler Thomas (20), 14. Jesse Colwell (11), 15. Tucker Klaasmeyer (13), 16. Andrew Layser (15), 17. Holley Hollan (14), 18. Ethan Mitchell (24), 19. Cole Bodine (22), 20. Karsyn Elledge (23), 21. Zane Hendricks (18), 22. Jerry Coons, Jr. (17), 23. Justin Peck (19), 24. Tony DiMattia (9). NT

2019 NIGHT #2 FEATURE: (30 laps, starting position in parentheses) 1. Kevin Thomas, Jr. (4), 2. Justin Grant (3), 3. Zeb Wise (6), 4. Jason McDougal (2), 5. C.J. Leary (8), 6. Chris Windom (1), 7. Tucker Klaasmeyer (12), 8. Logan Seavey (13), 9. Tyler Courtney (5), 10. Thomas Meseraull (10), 11. Jesse Colwell (15), 12. Chad Boat (7), 13. Jake Neuman (16), 14. Ace McCarthy (14), 15. Dillon Welch (11), 16. Andrew Layser (22), 17. Holley Hollan (17), 18. Jerry Coons, Jr. (20), 19. Zane Hendricks (19), 20. Cole Bodine (21), 21. Tanner Carrick (9), 22. Sterling Cling (24), 23. Dave Darland (18), 24. Ethan Mitchell (23). NT