Avedisian Looks for Breakthrough on West Coast Swing
Series News Release - USAC Media
Speedway, Indiana (November 10, 2023) - It was this time of the season two years ago when Jade Avedisian made a grand introduction to USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship racing.
With a pedigree that included a standout upbringing in micro sprints, including a 2017 USAC Junior Micro Sprint championship, she made her debut in time for the series’ west coast swing in 2021.
It was there at Merced Speedway, located roughly 45 minutes away from her Clovis, Calif. home, that she finished fourth and instantly showed to all onlookers, and to herself, that she belonged.
Now, two years later, she continues to progress up the rankings, currently standing sixth in points and, earlier this year, became the first woman to lead the USAC National standings. Still just 17 years old, Avedisian is already preparing for her third annual west coast trip with the USAC Midgets and can note some of the differences between now and then.
“I just got in and tried to do the best I could at the time,” Avedisian said. “This is my third time on the west coast in a midget and I know I’ve come a long way since then, and especially this year, I feel like I’m head and shoulders ahead of where I even started this year.”
The stats don’t lie. She’s made all 21 feature starts with USAC and her six top-fives and 13 top-ten results have doubled her previous career-highs from a year ago when she made 20 series starts. Although she’s excited to be back on the west coast, she aims to be a few spots better. With three runner-up USAC finishes this season, she feels her time to win is coming, but winning a USAC race requires almost perfect execution in every facet. At Bloomington (Ind.) Speedway, one little slip atop the turn two cushion while leading cost her the victory. But despite the close calls, Avedisian knows she possesses all the tools to eventually seal the deal, but it requires a complete showing from beginning to end.
“I feel like there’s a lot of nights this year that I’ve been so frustrated because we were so close,” Avedisian revealed. “I’ll always be angry about the Bloomington deal. I feel like that was our chance to win but I put myself in a bad position and made a mistake and that was that. But I feel pretty confident going out to the west coast. I’ve come a long way this year and I know we’re going to have really good cars out there, so I need to capitalize and limit the mistakes.”
One new aspect for Avedisian in 2023 was her joining Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports, the owner of 12 USAC National Midget titles and 143 series wins, both all-time records. Knowing their history, reputation and the fact that she was now in the same position as Buddy Kofoid with the same team and crew chief (Jarrett Martin) that won the championship the last two years, admittedly, it placed a little bit more pressure on herself to perform.
“I definitely would say that I was putting more pressure on myself just because everyone knows how good they are and I feel like they have chances to win almost every single night,” Avedisian admitted. “Last year, I wasn’t really that consistent on my end. I was either all in or really bad. So, I knew that was going to be a big step for me to take going into this year.”
Martin, who has earned top honors as the recipient of the Johnny Capels USAC Chief Mechanic of the Year in 2021-22, was assigned to Avedisian this year, and they’ve clicked. Together, they grabbed the 2023 Xtreme Outlaw Midget Series title on the strength of five feature victories, but it came with its share of learning curves along the way as well.
At times earlier this season, Avedisian admits to pushing way too hard and surpassing the edge, but in the process, she learned that in order to be faster, sometimes you’ve got to slow down. She remarked that, in midsummer of this season, there was a light switch moment that helped her post more consistent results from that point forward.
“Having Jarrett on my side this year has been great,” Avedisian praised. “He’s coached me through everything and has helped out a ton. (KKM) has done it for so many years and they’ve got a big notebook, so when they see something that happens, and they’ve seen many young drivers coming up, they know the tendencies they have. They’ve got no quit, I’ll tell you that. No matter what happens throughout the night or the night before, they never give up on you.”
A year ago this time, while driving for CB Industries, Avedisian had her first meeting with Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports in a not-so-fun, but oh-so-memorable manner at California’s Placerville Speedway. It was there, while battling for third in the feature, she and KKM’s Tanner Carrick touched wheels, sending Avedisian ramping up the wall and flipping over three times in nose-to-tail fashion before coming to a rest on the other side of the turn one banking.
Avedisian walked away from the scene and, in fact, traveled on foot all the way from turn one to turn three to give Carrick a fist bump with nary a word said. It was a much-ballyhooed moment that had the racing world buzzing regarding her maturity. As fate would have it, now the same two drivers will be teammates for four events during the upcoming west coast trip with KKM.
“I had no clue what I was going to do,” Avedisian said with a laugh when recalling her meet and greet with Carrick that night. “I got out of the car, and I started walking, and I was like, I have no clue what I’m going to do. I walked up to his car and thought, ‘what am I going to do?’ So I did a fist bump. I know I probably wanted to do other things, but I just can’t do that to the people who support me on my firesuit and to put all the other people around me and all my partners in a bad light.”
Avedisian sure hopes better times await on this west coast trip, and one thing she knows for sure, if she is able to break through and become the first woman to capture a USAC National feature win, it will have been well-earned.
“USAC races are so tough,” she said. “I can’t even express how tough they are, starting with qualifying to having to get out of your heat race, which is a big thing. I just need to set myself up early in the night, do my best and execute the best I can.”
2023 USAC NOS ENERGY DRINK MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP REMAINING SCHEDULE:
Nov 14: Bakersfield Speedway - Bakersfield, CA – November Classic
Nov 17: Placerville Speedway - Placerville, CA – Hangtown 100
Nov 18: Placerville Speedway - Placerville, CA – Hangtown 100
Nov 21: Merced Speedway - Merced, CA
Nov 22: Merced Speedway - Merced, CA
Nov 25: Ventura Raceway - Ventura, CA – ARP Turkey Night Grand Prix