From Richie Murray – USAC Media
Brandon, South Dakota (July 9, 2022)………Among the most dominating runs in USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship history was Rich Vogler’s 1978 campaign in which he kicked off the year with six victories in his first 13 starts to begin the season.
In 2022, Buddy Kofoid has bettered that by becoming the fastest driver in the 67-year history of the series to collect his sixth victory of the season, accomplishing the feat in just the 12th event of the year during Saturday’s night two of the Huset’s Speedway USAC Nationals in Brandon, S.D.
It was yet another exhilarating drive from the reigning series champion and current point leader who hails from Penngrove, Calif. and carved his way from the sixth starting position and into the lead with 11 laps remaining when race leader Cannon McIntosh biked on the turn three cushion.
Kofoid subsequently slithered by to the point and into the history books with his 15th career USAC National Midget feature triumph, which tied Don Branson and Larry Rice for 48th on the all-time list.
Meanwhile, Kofoid brought his car owner, Kunz, his 128th series win as an entrant, moving him to within five victories of the all-time win record held by Steve Lewis at 133.
However, Kofoid was slightly mired in fourth for much of the first half of the 30-lapper with a stout bunch dicing it up in front of him, but his ability to drive his finely-prepared and tuned Keith Kunz-Curb-Agajanian Motorsports/Mobil 1 – Toyota – TRD/Bullet By Spike/Speedway Toyota deep into turns one and three on the cushion allowed him to move to the front of the field posthaste on the racy, 1/3-mile dirt oval.
“I didn’t feel great out of (turn) two, but I felt like I could sail it off into one harder than most people could,” Kofoid explained. “Luckily, it wasn’t too tricky or technical to where you’d get over it and it’d make you bike. A couple times, I got tight later in the corner, and I felt like it almost cost me a couple of times.”
As the highest point earner following the heat races, an invert of six placed Kofoid on the outside of row three for the start of the 30-lapper. Chance Crum controlled the pace early from the pole position and led the first 10 trips ahead of Jacob Denney and Cannon McIntosh.
Meanwhile, Kofoid was already up to fourth by lap one utilizing the high line and initially appeared as if he was going to cruise with ease past the top-three occupants. However, third-running McIntosh held firm to his ground and withstood not one, not two, but three slide-bys from Kofoid to retain third.
Now, with his elbows firmly up, McIntosh began to surge forward, and on lap 11, split the difference between Crum and Denney on the back straight to zip from third to first and carry on like a wayward son as the new race leader.
Undaunted, Kofoid regrouped to blast by Crum for third on lap 13, then promptly slid Denney for second using the turn one infield berm in the process. However, the yellow flag was displayed moments later for eighth running Ethan Mitchell who stopped in turn four with smoke pouring from his No. 19m, forcing Kofoid back to third behind Denney as scoring reverted to the last completed lap.
At least momentarily.
Kofoid picked up right where he left off on the lap 14 restart to scooter around the outside of Denney to secure second while McIntosh remained a half second ahead of Kofoid out front for the time being. All of McIntosh’s advantage was wiped clean when he got on two wheels above the turn three cushion on the 20th lap. Kofoid slung by underneath to take control a single lap sooner than he did during his previous night’s triumph.
Now Kofoid was in a comfort zone, in the lead and on a surface fit to his liking.
“I knew once it slicked off in the middle, we’d be really good on the fence in turns three and four,” Kofoid noted. “I feel like our cars are always good against something big, treacherous and fast. I guess I don’t mind putting it up there and putting it up on the fence. I love it like that.”
With the roles now reversed, McIntosh became the chaser and Kofoid the chasee with a car length separation between the two as Kofoid hopped along on the turn one cushion on lap 24. McIntosh closed to within a car length of Kofoid and fired off a shot at Kofoid on the bottom entrance to turn three. Both slid side-by-side through the corner a foot apart, but Kofoid denied him any sense of daylight, forcing McIntosh to fall back into line behind him.
Kofoid split through the tail end of the field and escaped any threat of a challenge from McIntosh in the waning laps. Nonetheless, a series of stoppages bunched the two back up when 13th running Shane Golobic spun sideways to a stop on the back straight on the final lap.
Upon the resumption, McIntosh made a run right at Kofoid on the lap 29 restart as McIntosh nearly collided with the tail tank of Kofoid’s ride on the cushion in turn one. Kofoid responded by shooting away from McIntosh by the time they hit turn two.
Despite that, Kofoid was forced to fend McIntosh off again when 15th running Trey Gropp, celebrating his 19th birthday on this particular evening, tipped over on his lid between turns one and two. He was uninjured and the car was towed back to the pits on the hook.
The third finish attempt was the charm for Kofoid who jetted away from the rest of the pack on the final restart. McIntosh nearly met an undesirable conclusion to his race as he biked once more, this time in turn one on the top side, before mashing the throttle and getting back to business but not before losing two spots to Denney and Justin Grant to momentarily fall back to fourth.
McIntosh, with his car’s nosepiece hanging askew by a thread, split back between Denney and Grant a half lap later into turn three to retake second coming to the white flag. On the final lap, Grant found the same exact fate as McIntosh the lap before in turn one, dropping to eighth as he wrangled control of his machine. As Grant came back down the track in turn two, his left rear tire made contact with the right rear of seventh-running Bryant Wiedeman, resulting in Grant’s tire collapsing off the wheel and dropping him all the way back to 12th in the final running order for his first finish outside the top-ten all season in his 12th start.
Up front, Kofoid was in total control as he carried a 0.876 margin of victory with him across the finish line ahead of McIntosh, Denney, Mitchel Moles and Brady Bacon.
Cannon McIntosh (Bixby, Okla.) led nine laps through the middle of the feature en route to a second place result. It was his third consecutive top-five finish with the series after only having two during the first nine events this year as the pilot of the Dave Mac Dalby Motorsports/Crescent Tools – GearWrench – DriveWFX/Spike/Speedway Toyota.
It was yet another stout run for sensational USAC National Midget Rookie Jacob Denney (Galloway, Ohio) as he picked up a third place finish for his third podium finish in his last four series starts aboard his Mounce-Stout Motorsports/Rockwell Security – MPV Express – Smith Titanium/Spike/Stanton SR-11.
Feature Results (30 laps, starting positions in parentheses):
1. Buddy Kofoid (6), 2. Cannon McIntosh (5), 3. Jacob Denney (2), 4. Mitchel Moles (3), 5. Brady Bacon (11), 6. Zach Daum (14), 7. Bryant Wiedeman (7), 8. Brenham Crouch (15), 9. Chance Crum (1), 10. Thomas Meseraull (24), 11. Kaylee Bryson (25), 12. Justin Grant (8), 13. Maria Cofer (4), 14. Chase McDermand (16), 15. Shane Golobic (12), 16. Taylor Reimer (18), 17. Jade Avedisian (13), 18. Jace Park (10), 19. Logan Seavey (21), 20. Hayden Reinbold (20), 21. Cade Lewis (17), 22. Trey Gropp (23), 23. Alex Schriever (22), 24. Ethan Mitchell (9), 25. Blake Brannon (19). NT
See the full story and results:
Photo: DB3, Inc. / usacracing.com
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