From Richie Murray – USAC Media
Kokomo, Indiana (June 11, 2022)………It had been a long time coming for Cannon McIntosh.
Entering Saturday night’s USAC Indiana Midget Week round at Kokomo Speedway, the Bixby, Oklahoma driver had endured a more than 20 month absence from USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship victory lane, a span of 57 series races without a triumphant celebration.
But Saturday night all belonged McIntosh as he steered his Dave Mac Dalby Motorsports/Crescent Tools – GearWrench – DriveWFX/Spike/Speedway Toyota to the race lead past Justin Grant, taking just nine laps to race to the front after starting sixth en route to a convincing victory by a 2.243 second margin.
It was one that McIntosh yearned for badly, not only to rid himself of his pesky never-ending winless drought in USAC competition, but also because of how his Indiana Midget Week had unfolded to this point with only one finish better than 19th in his first four starts this week.
After his car was destroyed during a flip at Lawrenceburg (Ind.) Speedway last Sunday, the team had worked all day, then thrashed all night to get the backup car ready. On the way to Haubstadt, Indiana’s Tri-State Speedway for the following night’s event, two of the three right side tires blew out on the team’s trailer on the way to the track. They barely arrived at the track in time, rolling into the pits just before the driver’s meeting then, promptly, endured a categorically bad night and discovering a major lack of speed in the car.
With the rapid-fire pace of Indiana Midget Week’s schedule, there’s little time available at one’s disposal to spend time making wholesale changes and, figuratively, throwing darts without a feather at the proverbial board. Something needed to be done, and quick.
“We just couldn’t get it to where we wanted; every car has a different sweet spot,” McIntosh explained. “We didn’t want to mess around too long, so my brother (Jace) actually drove a frame here from Oklahoma the next night, got it here and we built it in a day. I seemed to like it better right off the bat (the next race at Lincoln Park Speedway). We had the speed we were looking for and it was doing more what we expected it to do when doing certain things.”
However, before they could even start the Lincoln Park feature, more mechanical woes had come to a head, and the team was forced to sit out and watch the feature from the sidelines.
Come Saturday night at Kokomo, they found the speed right off the bat by setting quick time during Fatheadz Eyewear Qualifying and, thus, setting the tone for the remainder of the night and, ultimately, his first career USAC Indiana Midget Week win.
Mind you, McIntosh came oh-so-close during the 2021 IMW opener when he had one seemingly in the bag only to lose the race on the last corner of the last lap to a hard-charging Thomas Meseraull at Paragon Speedway. This too was a long-awaited moment in time that the 19-year-old McIntosh was eager to rectify.
With that said, to reach that point from the beginning of Saturday’s program to the finish was just as “long-awaited” when it was usurped by dear ol’ Mother Nature, who interrupted the on-track action for roughly two hours just before hot laps. Rain struck again while the field was lining up for the feature, obstructing the start of the main event for another 20 minutes.
The only thing the weather did was slightly delay McIntosh’s ultimate beeline from start to finish as he surged through the field, gliding underneath leader Grant in turn one on lap nine to take over at the front.
“I was able to get by one or two guys there in the first corner and then just followed in suit while watching what the guys in front of me were doing,” McIntosh disclosed. “I tried to move around a little bit and was able to find something to my liking and something that the car really liked too. We were able to start picking guys off one-by-one and, once we got up front, I felt like we could just make smooth consistent laps and run away with it.”
One lap after McIntosh took over the lead, 22nd running Kaidon Brown of Australia flipped upside down in turn four but walked away without injury.
The lap 10 restart witnessed a serious surge by those in back half of the top-five and top-10 as Indiana Midget Week point leader Buddy Kofoid zipped from fifth to third by splitting between Kaylee Bryson and Jason McDougal on entry into turn one. One’s misstep is another’s treasure as Kofoid got tight on the turn two cushion, allowing McDougal and ninth-starting Jacob Denney to rise into the fourth spot on the low line.
Coming to 11 laps to go, Denney had cleared McDougal for third and began to work on Grant for second. However, exiting turn four, Denney and his outside foe Grant glanced wheels, ricocheting Denney into a sideways drift down the front straightaway, yet throttling on to continue without issue. Just moments later, ninth running Mitchel Moles nearly did the same thing as Denney but slid down the front straight and stopped. Moles restarted but finished a disappointing 17th.
The resulting yellow erased McIntosh’s daunting 3.2 second lead, but he quickly reloaded following the lap 20 restart and took off from there while Denney utilized the low line to stroll from third to second past Grant off the bottom of turns three and four. Denney continued to waltz on the low line but could not draw any closer to McIntosh’s now 1.2 second advantage with five to go.
McIntosh pumped his left fist outside the cockpit of his racecar in pure jubilance coming out of turn four on the final lap as he closed out his first USAC National Midget feature victory since September of 2020 at Gas City (Ind.) I-69 Speedway, and the fourth of his career, with a convincing turnaround winning performance over Denney, Grant, McDougal and Kofoid.
Jacob Denney (Galloway, Ohio) continued to make positive waves in the racing world in his seventh career USAC National Midget feature start. He followed up his first career series victory on Thursday night at Indiana’s Lincoln Park Speedway with a runner-up at Kokomo in the seat of the Mounce-Stout Motorsports/Rockwell Security – MPV Express – Smith Titanium/Spike/Stanton SR-11.
Justin Grant (Ione, Calif.) won the Kokomo Sprint Car feature that immediately preceded the start of the midget feature. He followed it up with a solid third-place run in his RMS Racing/NOS Energy Drink – EnviroFab – Response Management Services/Spike/Speedway Toyota midget. During Indiana Midget Week action at Kokomo, Grant has now finished a best of 2nd in 2021, 3rd in 2021 and 4th in 2017.
Feature Results (30 laps, starting positions in parentheses):
1. Cannon McIntosh (6), 2. Jacob Denney (9), 3. Justin Grant (2), 4. Jason McDougal (1), 5. Buddy Kofoid (5), 6. Kaylee Bryson (4), 7. Bryant Wiedeman (7), 8. Brenham Crouch (18), 9. Thomas Meseraull (17), 10. Taylor Reimer (10), 11. Ethan Mitchell (16), 12. Logan Seavey (11), 13. Chase McDermand (21), 14. Dominic Gorden (8), 15. Maria Cofer (14), 16. Hayden Reinbold (12), 17. Mitchel Moles (3), 18. Jade Avedisian (23-P), 19. Jace Park (15), 20. Sam Johnson (19), 21. Kyle Cummins (20), 22. Chance Crum (13), 23. Kaidon Brown (22). NT
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