By: Richie Murray – USAC Media
Kokomo, Indiana (June 12, 2021)………With eight nights of racing over a 10-night span, the lengthiest and most rigorous Indiana Midget Week schedule in the 17-year history of the series bled into another day following a rain delay that pushed Saturday’s USAC Indiana Midget Week finale at Kokomo Speedway into the early hours of Sunday for the USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship.
For race winner Chris Windom, the agonizing wait couldn’t end soon enough as the Canton, Ill. native endured three consecutive nights of Indiana Midget Week misery before prevailing with a winning performance at the quarter-mile track, a venue which has hosted many of the latest USAC Triple Crown Club member’s career highlights, including pair of previous print car track championships and where he had most recently won with the USAC Midgets back in May.
For 2021 Indiana Midget Week champion Buddy Kofoid, the title came right on time for the Penngrove, Calif. driver who finished off his second IMW run with a first title in the mini-series after finishing third in the final tally in 2020. Coupled with an extension of his point lead in the season-long USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship, Kofoid now holds a 47-point advantage and is fixed on translating his June success on an eight-race scale into a full-fledged run at the National title at year’s end.
Just four days prior, Windom led the IMW standings by double-digits and was riding a streak of three-straight top-three finishes. The three ensuing races leading into Kokomo saw results of 12th, 13th and 20th, which all but eliminated Windom’s hopes and dreams for an Indiana Midget Week title before he even set foot at Kokomo.
However, as has been the case throughout the entirety of his career, Kokomo was a sight for Windom’s sore eyes as he approached the final race of Indiana Midget Week. After midnight, he let it all hang out as he shot to the front just shy of the midway point and led the remaining 17 laps to earn his eighth career USAC National Midget feature victory and his third win in the last three years of Indiana Midget Week aboard his CB Industries/NOS Energy Drink – PristineAuction.com – K & C Drywall/Spike/Speedway Toyota.
“The last three nights have been some of the three crappiest I’ve had in a row in my career,” Windom acknowledged. “These guys have had to work every single day in this hot weather. It’s been a pretty crappy last three days for us and I know everybody was pretty down. But no one quit, and we came back. We had engine troubles after the heat, and they busted it to figure out what it was, and they got it fixed. I’m so happy to do this for these guys because they work so hard all week. Eight straight days is tough. We might not have won Indiana Midget Week, but we won the final night, and that’s all you can ask for at this point.”
Amid a block of eight races, night after night, it takes a lot of good fortune to avoid any missteps or heartaches. Kofoid was not immune as he had his share with a night at Circle City Raceway in round five in which he was involved in two separate incidents during the feature that thwarted a quality finish and wound up with him upside down when all was said and done.
However, Kofoid dug his way back to the top, and that’s just the place he finished in the standings after carving a path from 13th to 7th in Kokomo’s feature to secure the 2021 IMW points race and the crown by 20 points in his Keith Kunz-Curb-Agajanian Motorsports/Mobil 1 – TRD – IWX/Bullet By Spike/Speedway Toyota.
The title was Kofoid’s first in Indiana Midget Week following a third-place finish in the points during his first try in 2020. His 2021 IMW championship was also the unprecedented sixth for car owner Keith Kunz following previous five previous triumphs: Christopher Bell (2013), Rico Abreu (2014-15), Spencer Bayston (2018) and Logan Seavey (2019).
“It was a fun week, but I’m glad it’s over now,” Kofoid said. “It’s stressful, from winning to getting upside down, to losing it, to winning again, to having today where we didn’t qualify great, finished second in the heat race, then started 13th while the guy I needed to beat (Logan Seavey) was on the front row. It was tough, but once I got by Logan, I just wanted the race to be over right there. That was a lot for me to handle.”
“I’m kind of at a loss for words; this is a really big win for me,” Kofoid continued. “Winning Indiana Midget Week is huge; it’s really tough to do. I owe it all to Jarrett (Martin), Grant (Penn) and Andrew (West), they do a hell of a job every time we hit the track. We’ve always got some sort of speed. I couldn’t do this without (car owners) Keith (Kunz) and Pete (Willoughby), Keith Kunz Motorsports, Mobil 1 and Toyota for letting us come out here and have some fun.”
Kofoid led the IMW standings by seven coming into the 30-lap A-Main over teammate and 16th place starting Daison Pursley, and 11 markers over second-place starter Seavey. Windom, meanwhile, started third in the event, which was pushed to a 12:25am EDT start due to a lengthy rain delay following Fatheadz Eyewear qualifying, which ultimately resumed with midgets getting back on track for hot laps at 10:18pm.
The opening sequence saw a spirited high/low contest between pole sitter Justin Grant and outside front row starter Seavey. The duo raced shoulder to shoulder for the first three laps with Grant edging Seavey at the line by a narrow margin for the first two before Seavey utilized the momentum off the top side to pace past Grant for the lead on lap three.
On the ninth lap, Grant had re-reeled in Seavey, getting underneath the 2019 IMW champ entering the third turn. Seavey, in turn, bobbled over the cushion, allowing Grant to slip by to retake the spot while Windom nearly overtook both in one swing, missing out on the lead by a wheel, but now garnered Grant’s full attention.
Windom maintained his front bumper’s presence to the left corner of Grant’s line of vision until, on the 14th circuit, Windom pulled up the wheels and whipped past Grant to lead by a car length at the line. Grant refused to go quietly into the night, and continued to cruise the top line, but it proved to be too far around as Windom rolled the bottom to perfection and held serve a half second ahead.
The race went caution free until lap 21 when 18th running Cannon McIntosh began to slow with mechanical trouble as the leaders began to bear down on him. Just as the yellow flag flew, 16th running Brenham Crouch glanced his right rear tire off the back straightaway wall at speed, sending him into a wild series of flips that landed the Rookie driver in turn three with smoke and steam billowing from his ride. Crouch walked away uninjured.
Following the restart with nine to go, the ending of the story was being illustrated, and Windom held the pen, as he pulled away to win by a 1.661 second margin over Grant, with Jason McDougal, Emerson Axsom and Thomas Meseraull rounding out the top-five.
In doing so, Windom became the first driver since Brady Bacon in 2017 to win consecutive USAC National Midget races at Kokomo. While on most occasions, Kokomo is won on the top, where Windom has mastered with a sprint car a copious amount of times, Windom had his CBI No. 89 operating so well on the low line at the quarter-mile dirt oval that there was no thought of changing anything up when he reached the front, no matter how fraught the initial desire to do so was.
“The way the track changed, the bottom was tough to hit right,” Windom explained. “But every time we’re here, it seems like we’re able to roll the bottom so well. I’m so used to running the top in a sprint car here, it’s kind of tough to change up and run the bottom in a midget but this thing just works so good down there. We won down there the last two times we’ve won here, so I wasn’t going to change anything up once I got the lead there.”
Following finishes of 21st, 19th and 24th in his three most recent series starts leading into Kokomo’s finale, Justin Grant (Ione, Calif.) saved his best for last by turning in his finest performance of 2021 Indiana Midget Week while piloting the RMS Racing/NOS Energy Drink – EnviroFab – Response Management Services/Spike/Speedway Toyota. His runner-up finish equaled his top performance of the year after also finishing second at Tulsa, Oklahoma’s Port City Raceway in April.
Third-place Kokomo finisher Jason McDougal (Broken Arrow, Okla.) also made a much-needed recovery at Kokomo after suffering adversity the previous night at Gas City, with an axle snapping on him while running second on the final lap of the feature. Since McDougal has taken the wheel of the Robert Dalby Motorsports/RD Spring & Stamping – Walker Performance Filtration/Spike/Speedway Toyota at the beginning of the 2021 season, the “podium” finish at Kokomo turned out to be their best result thus far.
Thomas Meseraull (San Jose, Calif.) advanced from his 11th starting spot to finish 5th in the feature, helping him to the ProSource Indiana Midget Week Passing Master title with a total of 47 cars passed throughout the entirety of the eight-race series.
Series Rookie of the Year contender Chase Randall (Waco, Texas) earned his first career Fatheadz Fast Qualifying time with the USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midgets, clocking in with a lap of 13.112 seconds around Kokomo Speedway.
USAC NOS ENERGY DRINK MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: June 12, 2021 – Kokomo Speedway – Kokomo, Indiana – 17th USAC Indiana Midget Week – 1/4-Mile Dirt Oval
FATHEADZ EYEWEAR/DIRT RACING WRAP UP QUALIFYING: 1. Chase Randall, 19A, Reinbold/Underwood-13.112; 2. Emerson Axsom, 15, Petry-13.215; 3. Jason McDougal, 4, Dalby-13.239; 4. Chris Windom, 89, CBI-13.278; 5. Logan Seavey, 25, Malloy-13.280; 6. Jonathan Shafer, 67K, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-13.332; 7. Justin Grant, 2J, RMS-13.344; 8. Thomas Meseraull, 7x, RMS-13.370; 9. Kaylee Bryson, 71, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-13.379; 10. Buddy Kofoid, 67, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-13.411; 11. Brian Carber, 19, Hayward-13.434; 12. Corey Day, 47BC, Clauson Marshall-13.446; 13. Jerry Coons Jr., 85, Central-13.464; 14. Daison Pursley, 71K, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-13.489; 15. Kyle Cummins, 3G, Styres-13.502; 16. Kevin Thomas Jr., 5, Petry-13.509; 17. Taylor Reimer, 25K, Dave Mac-13.512; 18. Bryant Wiedeman, 01, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-13.514; 19. Cannon McIntosh, 08, Dave Mac-13.527; 20. Austin Barnhill, 17B, Johnson-13.572; 21. Tanner Thorson, 19T, Reinbold/Underwood-13.597; 22. Brenham Crouch, 97, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-13.633; 23. Hayden Williams, 1NZ, BSL-13.683; 24. Hayden Reinbold, 19AZ, Reinbold/Underwood-13.697; 25. Chance Crum, 26, Rudeen-13.709; 26. Sam Johnson, 72J, Johnson-13.735; 27. Blake Brannon, 40, Brannon-13.744; 28. Cole Bodine, 39BC, Clauson Marshall-13.792; 29. Trey Gropp, 00, MSW-13.916; 30. Travis Buckley, 7NZ, BLS-14.122; 31. Glenn Waterland, 11c, Waterland-14.697; 32. Jordan Calendine, 38, Calendine-14.727; 33. Ethan Mitchell, 19m, Bundy Built-14.867.
SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS FIRST HEAT: (10 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Tanner Thorson, 2. Jerry Coons Jr., 3. Logan Seavey, 4. Chase Randall, 5. Taylor Reimer, 6. Kaylee Bryson, 7. Chance Crum, 8. Trey Gropp. 2:17.776
COMPETITION SUSPENSION (CSI) SECOND HEAT: (10 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Bryant Wiedeman, 2. Buddy Kofoid, 3. Brenham Crouch, 4. Emerson Axsom, 5. Daison Pursley, 6. Jonathan Shafer, 7. Sam Johnson, 8. Travis Buckley. 2:14.472
INDY METAL FINISHING THIRD HEAT: (10 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Jason McDougal, 2. Cannon McIntosh, 3. Hayden Williams, 4. Justin Grant, 5. Brian Carber, 6. Kyle Cummins, 7. Blake Brannon, 8. Glenn Waterland. 2:15.788
INDY RACE PARTS FOURTH HEAT: (10 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Corey Day, 2. Chris Windom, 3. Kevin Thomas Jr., 4. Cole Bodine, 5. Thomas Meseraull, 6. Austin Barnhill, 7. Hayden Reinbold, 8. Jordan Calendine. NT
ELLIOTT’S CUSTOM TRAILERS & CARTS SEMI: (12 laps, top-6 transfer to the feature) 1. Thomas Meseraull, 2. Daison Pursley, 3. Kyle Cummins, 4. Kaylee Bryson, 5. Brian Carber, 6. Jonathan Shafer, 7. Trey Gropp, 8. Austin Barnhill, 9. Blake Brannon, 10. Travis Buckley, 11. Taylor Reimer, 12. Chance Crum, 13. Sam Johnson, 14. Glenn Waterland, 15. Hayden Reinbold. NT
FEATURE: (30 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Chris Windom (3), 2. Justin Grant (1), 3. Jason McDougal (4), 4. Emerson Axsom (5), 5. Thomas Meseraull (11), 6. Corey Day (7), 7. Buddy Kofoid (13), 8. Chase Randall (6), 9. Kevin Thomas Jr. (18), 10. Logan Seavey (2), 11. Jerry Coons Jr. (15), 12. Kaylee Bryson (12), 13. Daison Pursley (16), 14. Bryant Wiedeman (8), 15. Cole Bodine (22), 16. Kyle Cummins (17), 17. Hayden Williams (21), 18. Jonathan Shafer (10), 19. Tanner Thorson (9), 20. Brenham Crouch (20), 21. Cannon McIntosh (19), 22. Brian Carber (14). NT
**Brenham Crouch flipped on lap 21 of the feature.
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-2 Justin Grant, Laps 3-8 Logan Seavey, Laps 9-13 Justin Grant, Laps 14-30 Chris Windom.
USAC NOS ENERGY DRINK MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Buddy Kofoid-941, 2-Chris Windom-894, 3-Emerson Axsom-852, 4-Justin Grant-820, 5-Tanner Thorson-814, 6-Thomas Meseraull-802, 7-Daison Pursley-798, 8-Logan Seavey-781, 9-Kevin Thomas Jr.-732, 10-Jason McDougal-693.
FINAL USAC INDIANA MIDGET WEEK POINTS: 1-Buddy Kofoid-505, 2-Logan Seavey-485, 3-Daison Pursley-483, 4-Chris Windom-478, 5-Emerson Axsom-474, 6-Kevin Thomas Jr.-449, 7-Corey Day-446, 8-Thomas Meseraull-410, 9-Justin Grant-410, 10-Jason McDougal-389.