BC39: Kofoid Kisses Bricks at Indy
Series News Release - USAC Media
”This is the biggest win of my midget career.”
On the biggest stage in what has been the biggest year of his burgeoning racing career thus far, Buddy Kofoid soaked in his moment in the limelight as he stood proudly in victory lane on Thursday night.
He’d won at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The Penngrove, California native pulled out all the stops to capture the $15,000 top prize for prevailing in the fourth running of the Driven2SaveLives BC39 Presented By WeatherTech at The Dirt Track at IMS, which constituted a seemingly never-ending, see-saw exchange of slide jobs with Cannon McIntosh.
Using the cushion as a ramp and the outside concrete wall as a launching pad of sorts, Kofoid raced to the lead, fell out of the top spot, then regained it for good all in the final 10-lap sprint, taking the lead for the final time just five laps from the finish line in his Keith Kunz-Curb-Agajanian Motorsports/Mobil 1 – Toyota – TRD/Bullet By Spike/Speedway Toyota.
“Some of it was intentional and some of it was on accident,” Kofoid remarked regarding his use of the cushion and the extension of the cushion that led, on occasion, a meeting of his right rear tire against the outside wall. “A lot of the time, it worked out. Luckily, I didn’t get bit. Hats off to Cannon. It was so fun racing with him. It was probably one of most fun midget races I’ve ever been a part of.”
Kofoid, the reigning USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Champion and current series point leader, tallied up a triumph for the ages, one that he’ll never forget – not only for where he did it, but how he did it.
“At first, I didn’t think the track was going to widen up enough,” Kofoid recalled. “I was kind of stuck in fourth and fifth, so I just started ripping the fence, and if I put it upside down, I put it upside down. Luckily, that didn’t happen. It was a good points night, but also even better that we won at probably the coolest track in the world.”
Starting from the sixth spot, Kofoid’s position remained relatively unchanged well into the second half of the 39-lap event before finding his stride and making his move to establish his presence at the forefront of the field in the race honoring the late, great USAC champion Bryan Clauson.
“To honor Bryan, the whole Clauson family and Driven2SaveLives, it’s hard to put into words what that means,” Kofoid said. “And also, 15-grand is pretty damn cool too.”
The eighth series win of the season was the 17th of Kofoid’s USAC National Midget career, tying him with Jay Drake and J.J. Yeley for 40th all-time.
Meanwhile, Kofoid’s Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports team picked up its first BC39 win, becoming the fourth team in as many years to capture a victory in the event. The score was the 131st for car entrant Keith Kunz in USAC National Midget competition, moving him to within two of the all-time series win record held by Steve Lewis at 133.
Kofoid began his race from the outside of the third row all while outside front row starter and first-time BC39 participant Mitchel Moles raced away with the lead in his hands.
Trouble on the opening lap put a halt to the proceedings just as they were getting underway when 20th starting Kyle Cummins hopped three times entering the third turn, which pitched his car on its left side and sent him flipping over, promptly ending his night prematurely.
Twice in the early going, McIntosh swiped the lead from Moles only to have the pass negated due to a subsequent yellow flag, which reverted the running order to the most recently scored lap, thus placing Moles back in front of McIntosh at the head of the field.
On lap 13, McIntosh shot to the lead around the outside in turn four just as Moles slipped sideways on exit. Moments later, the yellow flag was displayed yet again, this time for debris in turn one, but luckily for McIntosh, the timing was right and the pass finally stuck as the lap was completed before the caution, making him officially the new race leader.
At that time, Kofoid began to inch his way forward, moving to fourth on lap 17. On the 20th lap, amid a tussle to retain fourth with Ethan Mitchell, Kofoid ramped up the turn four cushion, then ricocheted into Mitchell at the start finish line. As a result, Mitchell veered straight into the infield, sliding through the grass in turns three and four before returning to the dirt after free-falling to 10th.
Following a yellow for a spin by Chase McDermand on lap 23, Kofoid began to make his major surge forward. Dropping back to fifth just before the caution, Kofoid picked his way to fourth on lap 24, to third on lap 25 and to second on lap 26 after rocketing underneath Moles in turn two.
Moles’ race came to a sudden and nasty conclusion on lap 29 when the third-place combatant biked on the turn three cushion and took a sidewinder into the outside wall, sending him flipping five-and-a-half times before coming to a rest on his side. At the same time, fourth-place Thomas Meseraull narrowly escaped the calamity by avoiding contact with Moles’ flipping machine. Moles, the series’ leading Rookie driver, walked away but was forced to bid adieu from the action.
Now with 11 laps to go, the fight at the front was turned up another several notches to DEFCON 1 as McIntosh and Kofoid waged an epic, unrelenting slider war that seemed as if it would never cease.
Starting with 10 to go, Kofoid shot to the bottom in turn three as McIntosh countered back under off turn four to retake the position on lap 30. With the lead continuously changing hands, the pair exchanged slide jobs an incomprehensible 10 times in a six-lap span between laps 30 and 35. Kofoid officially led at the stripe on laps 31-32 with McIntosh regaining a slight edge on the 33rd and 34th circuits.
Using the skyscraper cushion as a sort of springboard, Kofoid dug in and created some much needed separation when he crossed over McIntosh off the top of turn four with five laps remaining and bounced out from McIntosh to the tune of seven-tenths of a second.
When an infield tire marker was clipped and pushed into the racing groove in turn three, the yellow flag fell and, thus, set up one final restart with three laps to go. McIntosh took advantage of the opportunity to throw a slider on Kofoid for the lead, briefly slipping ahead before Kofoid dipped back underneath off turn two to hold serve.
“I almost gave it away on the last restart,” Kofoid recalled. “But (beforehand) I told (crew chief) Jarrett Martin that I wanted to kiss the bricks. He said ‘okay, noted.’ When I told him and (crewman) Shane (Marquez) that again, they were like, ‘yes sir.’”
McIntosh reloaded and refired again in turn one with two laps remaining, but Kofoid denied the attempt, sending himself as far up on top of the “hill” as humanly possible, running downhill off the turn two cushion to narrowly escape with the spot as a suddenly emerging Justin Grant made it three-wide for the number one position. A tick of the watch later, Meseraull entered the frame and double-slid both Grant and McIntosh briefly in turn three before slotting in behind McIntosh coming to the white flag.
Kofoid’s final measure proved to be the decisive moment and propelled him far enough ahead to where his challengers possessed nary a single bullet in the chamber to fire on the final lap as Kofoid sped away for a 0.845 second advantage at the finish line as the winner over McIntosh, Meseraull, Grant and Kyle Larson.
Cannon McIntosh (Bixby, Okla.) led a race-high 20 laps in his Dave Mac Dalby Motorsports/Crescent Tools – GearWrench – DriveWFX/Spike/Speedway Toyota. After losing the lead with less than 10 to go, the Okie battled his way back to the lead and fought tooth-and-nail to the final gun. In the end, he brought it home in second-place, his best result in three BC39 starts.
“I just think he found something there,” McIntosh said of the difference between he and Kofoid during the latter stages. “Battling through traffic early, he was just able to get something going in one and two. I just didn’t have enough time to figure it out. I was able to gain enough speed to get to the lead, but I just couldn’t get through one and two as good as him on the top. We were really good on the bottom and, if it had stayed down there, it would’ve worked out well. I feel like we put up the best fight we could’ve with what we had, and we brought it home second. It was fun racing with him there and I feel like we were able to push each other to the limit without going over the limit.”
Thomas Meseraull (San Jose, Calif.) led laps in each of his last two starts at the BC39 in 2019 and 2021. On this night, he led no laps, but he did come away with his best career finish in the event, notching third after starting back in 11th in his RMS Racing/EnviroFab – Response Management Services – Engler Machine/Spike/Speedway Toyota.
From the C to the B to the A. Justin Grant (Ione, Calif.) had a long row to hoe Thursday night at the BC39. He advanced from 9th to 2nd in the C-Main, from 16th to 2nd in the semi-feature and from 18th to 4th in the feature, passing a whopping total of 35 cars in the final three events of the alphabet soup in his RMS Racing/NOS Energy Drink – EnviroFab – Response Management Services/Spike/Speedway Toyota. He remains the only driver to finish in the top-10 in all four editions of the BC39 since 2018.
FEATURE: (39 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Buddy Kofoid (6), 2. Cannon McIntosh (1), 3. Thomas Meseraull (11), 4. Justin Grant (18), 5. Kyle Larson (10), 6. Zach Daum (3), 7. Kaylee Bryson (15), 8. Brady Bacon (5), 9. Dominic Gorden (8), 10. Brenham Crouch (23-U), 11. Bryant Wiedeman (14), 12. Chris Windom (9), 13. Emerson Axsom (19), 14. Taylor Reimer (24-U), 15. Trey Gropp (7), 16. Jason McDougal (21), 17. Tyler Courtney (25-P), 18. Chase McDermand (17), 19. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (22), 20. Karter Sarff (13), 21. Chase Briscoe (26-P), 22. Michael Pickens (16), 23. Mitchel Moles (2), 24. Jacob Denney (12), 25. Ethan Mitchell (4), 26. Kyle Cummins (20).
**(P) represents an Indianapolis Motor Speedway promoter’s option
**(P) represents a USAC provisional
USAC NOS ENERGY DRINK MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Buddy Kofoid-1258, 2-Justin Grant-1172, 3-Thomas Meseraull-1014, 4-Cannon McIntosh-976, 5-Mitchel Moles-965, 6-Bryant Wiedeman-928, 7-Kaylee Bryson-919, 8-Logan Seavey-763, 9-Ethan Mitchell-750, 10-Brenham Crouch-749.