From Richie Murray / usacracing.com
Haubstadt, Indiana (June 5, 2022)………In an unpredictable event filled to the brim with its share of drama, tempers and an incalculable amount of madness for 30 laps, the victor happened to be the one who has made winning USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship features at Tri-State Speedway routine – Thomas Meseraull.
With all those things and more hanging in the balance, Meseraull was forced to fend off the series’ most seemingly unstoppable force of late, Buddy Kofoid, who came into Sunday night’s USAC Indiana Midget Week round three at the Haubstadt, Ind. 1/4-mile riding a wave of four-straight series wins, including three in succession in the three preceding nights.
As it turned out, it took near perfection for Meseraull to prevent Kofoid from achieving perfection himself, as he thwarted several Kofoid slide jobs throughout the duration en route to his third career series victory at Tri-State to remain the only multi-time USAC National Midget feature winner at the track dating back to 1969.
“That was awesome,” Meseraull exclaimed. “First of all, not only did we back up the last two year’s wins, we beat Buddy!”
Meseraull’s second career USAC Indiana Midget Week win, which came in the seat of the RMS Racing/EnviroFab – Response Management Services – Engler Machine/Spike/Speedway Toyota, was the seventh of his USAC National Midget career, moving him inside the top-100 on the all-time list alongside Tommy Astone, Jack Hewitt, Don Horvath, Page Jones, Kenneth Nichols, Larry Patton, Les Scott, Len Sutton and Johnnie Tolan.
Furthermore, the victory occurred at the same venue where he scored his first win back in 2020 and, for the San Jose, Calif. native, “The Class Track” has turned into home sweet home.
Right from the get-go, this war became a survival of the fittest situation. Outside front row starter Meseraull made sure to stay in front of the fray as he zipped around pole starter Taylor Reimer in turn two to take the lead on the opening lap.
Reimer, however, quickly found herself shuffled back as she and Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports teammate Bryant Wiedeman challenged side-by-side through turn four. Reimer became bogged down in the cushion, fell back to the eighth position, then mounted a charge into turn one which tagged fourth-running Zach Daum from behind, spinning both out on the second go-around.
By that point, Fatheadz Eyewear fast qualifier Kofoid had already risen to third and, on the lap two restart, blew by Wiedeman on the backstretch for second and promptly closed in on leader Meseraull. Kofoid slid Meseraull for the race lead on the fourth lap in turn three, but Meseraull countered back under at the exit before sliding himself into turn one to prevent Kofoid from tossing another breaking ball over the corner of the plate.
Nearing mid-race, Meseraull was shearing a path through traffic to construct a half second lead over Kofoid as the race hit the midway point. However, on lap 14, Meseraull found himself mired behind the car of 20th running Chris Baue. Meseraull swung to the low side on the back straightaway to get by Baue, briefly slowing Meseraull’s momentum, while Kofoid carried a full head of steam to the top of turn three. Baue drifted high at the exit of turn four, closing Kofoid’s path while simultaneously opening the door for Meseraull to retake charge.
After Baue’s car went up in smoke to bring out the yellow on the 17th lap, Kofoid attacked Meseraull on the ensuing restart and, once more, slid past Meseraull in turns three and four. And, just like before, Meseraull had an answer and countered off the exit of four to reestablish himself in the lead.
Following his emergence from a spirited duel in conjunction with Wiedeman for the third spot and with only eight laps to go, Grant quickly collapsed the canyon-sized gap between he and the front two of Meseraull and Kofoid and was able to slice in front of Kofoid for second on lap 24. Kofoid returned the favor in turn three, and with slight contact between Kofoid’s rear bumper and Grant’s rear bumper, it ricocheted Grant offline and put him another full second out of reach behind Kofoid. A lap 26 tangle between series Rookies Cade Lewis (16th) and Jade Avedisian (17th) in turn four resulted in a seismic shift of the running order at the top once again, sending Grant right to the tail tank of Kofoid for the restart.
Meseraull answered again on the lap 26 restart as Kofoid slid under him in turns three and four. Meseraull held a firm grip and ably maintained his lead position by just a few car lengths while a new challenge was developing just behind where Kofoid and Grant began to relentlessly slide each other. Grant struck first in turn three on lap 27 when he got by initially and Kofoid responded by charging back by in turn one on lap 28.
The red flag flew moments later when Ethan Mitchell (13th) toppled over in turn four. But when the race resumed, that’s when the complexion of the whole deal turned upside down which, in turn, ignited the tempers and boiled the blood. Kofoid looked to the high side of Grant on the back straight with three laps to go, then ducked to the bottom at the entry to turn three. The resulting contact between Kofoid’s right rear and Grant’s left front tire sent Grant flipping while Kofoid's car bounced like a basketball through turns three and four and kept going somehow, someway.
Grant's car was pushed back on its wheels, no worse for the wear, but his race was essentially over as he was forced to start at the back with time nearly almost completely out.
Meseraull seemed to have staved off every opportunity Kofoid had taken to fire his arrows at him but when victory seemed imminent with half a lap to go following the restart, Meseraull was greeted with the yellow flag instead of the checkered when Chris Windom (6th), Cade Lewis (10th) and Brenham Crouch (14th) tangled in turn one, necessitating a green-white-checkered finish.
One more run for the roses was in store for Meseraull vs. Kofoid. Kofoid was able to pull even with Meseraull through three and four with the white flag in sight. But Meseraull dug in the spurs, kicked up the rooster tails and sprayed the outside wall with southern Indiana soil as he shot back in front of Kofoid off turn four. A slight bobble atop the turn one and two cushion on the final trip around signified the close of this particular story for Kofoid as Meseraull distanced himself to defeat the field by a 0.630 second margin with Kofoid second, Mitchel Moles third, Kaylee Bryson fourth and Kyle Cummins fifth.
Sensing umbrage from Kofoid in the post-race celebration, Kofoid was succinct in his explanation of the frustration levied with him.
“He was really upset with me because I kind of dirtied him up,” Meseraull said. “But that’s what I had to do to beat him and that’s what I did to beat him.”
For the first time since April, Kofoid was not standing in victory lane after the race. After winning four-straight, the Penngrove, Calif. racer came up just one spot short of tying Rich Vogler’s all-time record of five-straight victories set during his first series championship back in 1978. Instead, Kofoid came home second, but did maintain both his Indiana Midget Week and USAC National Midget point leads in his Keith Kunz-Curb-Agajanian Motorsports/Mobil 1 – Toyota – TRD/Bullet By Spike/Speedway Toyota.
“I kind of had a feeling that (Meseraull) would protect his line into one, but I probably would’ve done the same thing just because you can slide someone from so deep here and it’s hard to stick it on exit,” Kofoid explained.
Regarding the incident with Grant, Kofoid stated, “I didn’t run Justin like that on purpose. I didn’t expect him to run the bottom and I had a run. I didn’t do it on purpose. I have a lot of respect for Justin. We’ll take a second here. That’s like a win for us. My performances here have not been that good, but I’m glad that we finally got a good feeling on this track.”
It was yet another impressive run for USAC National Midget Rookie Mitchel Moles (Raisin City, Calif.) as he scored a third-place result in what was his first ever visit to Tri-State Speedway aboard the CB Industries/PristineAuction.com – K & C Drywall – NOS Energy Drink/Spike/Speedway Toyota.
“I felt like we were pretty good there,” Moles reflected. “I just struggled on the short restarts because, if you run the top like that, in order to build your momentum, you leave the door open so badly. That’s why I started sliding myself and I was kind of hanging on. We’ll win these races eventually and we’re going to win them right.”
Kaylee Bryson (Muskogee, Okla.) made the biggest charge of the USAC National Midget driver this season on Saturday night as she passed a quote unquote “crap ton of cars.” She advanced 18 positions from her 22nd starting spot to finish 4th to earn a $100 bonus as the Irvin King Hard Charger in her Keith Kunz-Curb-Agajanian Motorsports/JBL Audio – Toyota - TRD/Bullet By Spike/Speedway Toyota.
Feature Results (30 laps, starting positions in parentheses):
1. Thomas Meseraull (2), 2. Buddy Kofoid (6), 3. Mitchel Moles (10), 4. Kaylee Bryson (22), 5. Kyle Cummins (12), 6. Zach Daum (3), 7. Taylor Reimer (1), 8. Chase McDermand (16), 9. Justin Grant (5), 10. Dominic Gorden (15), 11. Jade Avedisian (9), 12. Bryant Wiedeman (4), 13. Chris Windom (14), 14. Brenham Crouch (7), 15. Cade Lewis (8), 16. Mariah Ede (21), 17. Ethan Mitchell (11), 18. Jason McDougal (13), 19. Cannon McIntosh (17), 20. Chris Baue (18), 21. Jacob Denney (20), 22. Hayden Reinbold (19). NT
See the full story and results:
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