From Richie Murray – USAC Media
Beloit, Kansas (July 13, 2022)………Twenty-four hours prior, Thomas Meseraull had literally let one slip away.
After leading nearly the entire first half of Tuesday night’s feature, the San Jose, Calif. native slipped off the bottom and left the door open for victory to escape his grasp.
One night later at Solomon Valley Raceway, it turned out to be a 180-degree difference for Meseraull which, ironically, came on a day in which the north central Kansas air temperature felt close to 180-degrees.
But when the sun went down and the full moon rose up, Meseraull went up to the top, splitting between the side-by-side party of Buddy Kofoid and Cannon McIntosh to go from third-to-first on lap 10 of the 30-lapper en route to cashing in his second USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship victory of the year in Wednesday night’s 11th running of the Chad McDaniel Memorial.
“Last night was tough,” Meseraull recalled. “We all didn’t know the bottom was going to go the way it did and the bottom just ain’t my thing. Tonight, it was a totally different deal – ripping the lip. We qualified where we needed to and made the invert, which is really important for me because I’m not that great at qualifying. In the heat race, we weren’t that great. I’m in the coil car so the thing was kind of bouncy, but (crew chief) Bill Guess made some good calls, and the car just came right to us.”
Meseraull’s triumphant performance on the 1/4-mile dirt oval was the eighth of his career with the series, elevating him into 82nd all-time alongside Brady Bacon, Merle Bettenhausen, Tony Bettenhausen, Hank Butcher, Kevin Doty, Dan Drinan, Ronnie Duman, Brian Gerster, Kenny Irwin Jr., Eddie Johnson, Michael Lewis, Andy Michner, Logan Seavey and Josh Wise.
Starting fourth in the 22-car field, Meseraull had a sizable hill to climb with the winners of four of the past five features starting ahead of him in Buddy Kofoid (3rd) and Cannon McIntosh (2nd), plus Ethan Mitchell on the pole.
On the opening lap, however, Fatheadz Fast Qualifier and sixth-starting Taylor Reimer found trouble in turns one and two as she ramped over the right rear wheel of her teammate, Kofoid, and ground to a halt over the edge of the turn two banking. Reimer restarted but managed just a 14th place finish.
With a complete restart in play, McIntosh jumped away to the early advantage and immediately broke out to a half-straightaway lead just two laps into it. Kofoid, meanwhile, busted his way up into the second position on the opening lap, slipping underneath Mitchell in the second turn. After exchanging punches, Meseraull successfully slid Mitchell for third between turns and three in four on lap three.
Now it became a heated three-car chase for the race lead. Kofoid slung the first shot as he slid across the nose of McIntosh in four on lap nine. McIntosh consequently crossed over to the inside of Kofoid, who clipped McIntosh by a half car length at the line.
While those two were wrapped up in their own duel, Meseraull was waiting in the wings. Both Kofoid and McIntosh entered turn one on the low to middle lines, forcing both to lose their momentum. Simultaneously, Meseraull diamonded his line off the top of turn one before shooting to the middle of turn two, then split straight down the boulevard between McIntosh and Kofoid to snare away the lead in a dazzling third-to-first display.
“I seemed to be better in one and two,” Meseraull explained. “I seemed to be getting through the rough a little bit better, so when Buddy slid Cannon, I just kind of opened my entry up, hoping that they both came off two without a lot of momentum because they both went in on a slide job. I was able to diamond and drive by both of them, which doesn’t happen a lot. It’s tough to get by Buddy and Cannon, let alone drive by both at once. It just goes to show you how good this car really was tonight.”
Kofoid took what would be his last gasp at Meseraull for the lead in turn four on lap 12 but was thoroughly denied as Meseraull fended off the attack.
“I knew I just had to stay in front of Buddy,” Meseraull acknowledged. “He was throwing sliders and I just wasn’t giving up. I was going to let him crash me or I was going to stay out in front, and that’s where I was.”
Previous night’s Red Dirt Raceway winner Ryan Timms came storming through the field at Solomon Valley and thrusted to third by fellow Oklahoman McIntosh with a slider in turn four on lap 20 all while, up front, Meseraull had sped away to a two-second lead entering lapped traffic.
Meseraull couldn’t be contained as he piloted his RMS Racing/EnviroFab – Response Management Services – Engler Machine/Spike/Speedway Toyota to a convincing victory by a 1.937 second margin of victory over Kofoid, Timms, McIntosh and Mitchell.
Buddy Kofoid (Penngrove, Calif.) picked up his 10th top-two finish in just 15 series starts this season. His runner-up performance on Wednesday night increased his championship point lead from 33 to 46 in his Keith Kunz-Curb-Agajanian Motorsports/Mobil 1 – Toyota – TRD/Bullet By Spike/Speedway Toyota.
“It was a good points night tonight,” Kofoid admitted. “We got some of our speed back compared to where we were yesterday, so that was nice. We were just a little off tonight and just needed to get a little bit more drive. We’ll take second over our finishes the last two nights.”
One night after scoring a victory at Red Dirt, Ryan Timms (Oklahoma City, Okla.) returned to the podium stage by making a supersonic charge through the field from his 16th starting position to a third-place finish on Wednesday night in his Keith Kunz-Curb-Agajanian Motorsports/iBuyPower – TRD – Toyota/Bullet By Spike/Speedway Toyota.
“I think the big deal that got me through (the field) was catching cautions at the right time,” Timms revealed. “Down there in three and four, I could run the bottom and enter on the slider line and just keep my momentum up. You couldn’t really do anything down in one and two if you left the top, so I’m definitely happy to get a third from 16th.”
For the first time in USAC National Midget history, women set the fastest qualifying time in consecutive series events. On Tuesday at Red Dirt, it was Reimer, and, on Wednesday at Solomon Valley, it was Jade Avedisian (Clovis, Calif.) picking up the second fast time award of her career.
Feature Results (30 laps, starting positions in parentheses):
1. Thomas Meseraull (4), 2. Buddy Kofoid (3), 3. Ryan Timms (16), 4. Cannon McIntosh (2), 5. Ethan Mitchell (1), 6. Mitchel Moles (5), 7. Justin Grant (7), 8. Cade Lewis (11), 9. Jade Avedisian (9), 10. Logan Seavey (13), 11. Zach Daum (18), 12. Jerry Coons Jr. (8), 13. Brenham Crouch (17), 14. Taylor Reimer (6), 15. Chase McDermand (19), 16. Bryant Wiedeman (15), 17. Jacob Denney (20), 18. Trey Gropp (10), 19. Kaylee Bryson (14), 20. Hayden Reinbold (12), 21. Corey Joyner (21), 22. J.R. Ewing (22). NT
See the full story and results:
Photo: usacracing.com / Rich Forman
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