Series News Release - USAC Media
Indianapolis, Indiana (June 5, 2023) - On occasion, one man’s misfortune is another man’s good fortune.
That was certainly the case during Monday night’s second round of USAC Indiana Midget Week at Circle City Raceway in which three different drivers led the last full lap they completed in the feature.
Two of those particular drivers fell by the wayside while Buddy Kofoid was the recipient of all the glory after leading only the final three laps to earn his first USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship victory of the season in his Keith Kunz-Curb-Agajanian Motorsports/Mobil 1 – Toyota – TRD/Bullet By Spike/Speedway Toyota.
Series Rookie Gavin Miller crashed out while leading on lap 13, and then Logan Seavey appeared to have the race in the bag with three to go when an ignition switch failed on him just three laps from the finish line.
Those set of circumstances elevated Kofoid (Penngrove, Calif.) into the lead and into victory lane for the 23rd time in his USAC National Midget career, surpassing fellow series champions Tom Bigelow, Bobby East and Shorty Templeman while tying Christopher Bell, Pancho Carter, Tommy Copp, Kevin Olson and Billy Vukovich for 22nd on the all-time series win list.
With his fourth career USAC Indiana Midget Week victory, Kofoid is now one of six drivers to win in the event on at least four occasions alongside Bryan Clauson and Kyle Larson (9), Christopher Bell and Tanner Thorson (5) and Rico Abreu (4), all of whom were victorious in the series for Keith Kunz Motorsports, a team which now stands at a record 29 IMW triumphs.
Sometimes, an individual would rather be lucky than good, and that may be partially true, but for the second consecutive evening, the two-time and reigning USAC Indiana Midget Week champ was in contention during the final laps and had placed himself in position to pounce if trouble were to befall a fellow frontrunner.
That did not come to fruition for Kofoid during Sunday night’s IMW opener at Tri-State Speedway as he finished in the runner-up spot to Jacob Denney. However, on Monday night, nearly resigning himself to another second place result, a combination of luck, good fortune and being in the right place at the right time allowed Kofoid to strike a victorious pose when all was said and done for the first time this season.
“We were good most of the day; we just didn’t quite find our balance,” Kofoid said. “The feature was probably the best I felt. I kind of got lucky; I was stagnant in second, but unfortunately, Gavin and Logan had their deals.”
It was certainly a reversal of fortunes for Kofoid compared to his only other Circle City outing with the USAC National Midgets in 2021, where he spun while running inside the top-five early in the going. After restarting at the tail that night two years ago, Kofoid charged his way back into the top-ten by lap 19 before flipping and finishing an uncharacteristic 19th.
On this night, however, it was Kofoid’s KKM teammate, Miller, who presided over the field early, leading the initial 12 laps as he jetted out to a near one-and-a-half second advantage over the rest of the field. However, his bid for a first career USAC National victory came to a crashing halt on unlucky lap 13 when he caught the turn one cushion and barrel-rolled three times into the outside wall. Miller walked away from the incident under his own power.
In turn, that handed the lead over to Kofoid who assumed the point with Justin Grant in tow for the lap 13 restart. Nonetheless, Kofoid’s turn up front amounted to a short-lived experience. Seventh-starting Seavey found the right tune and picked his way past Grant on the restart, then tracked down and slid Kofoid for the lead in turn one on lap 21.
Being the leader can often be difficult when those behind the frontrunner find something in the surface to propel them forward. Before the leader realizes that fact, it can sometimes be too late. This was the scenario that played out for Kofoid who admitted that it wasn’t exactly clear where he could put the car to maximize his lead.
“I felt kind of good, but I didn’t know where I needed to be, really,” Kofoid acknowledged. “The track was really tricky, and I felt there was a distinct line down in one and two, but I felt like there were about three different things you could’ve done in three and four. I was just doing the wrong thing and didn’t know. I didn’t hear anyone, and I didn’t see anyone until Logan got around me.”
Additionally, this was only Kofoid’s second USAC National Midget start of the season, both of which have come over the past two nights as he works to regain the feel and comfortability of wheeling a midget again after participating regularly in winged sprint car competition throughout the bulk of this year.
“For the most part, I knew where I needed to stay away from,” Kofoid stated. “There was a hole getting into (turn) one and you could go under it, which is what I was doing at the beginning and sliding myself. I thought that was where I needed to be early on, then I moved up and went around the hole and felt faster and better, but where I was off was just knowing where to be in turns three and four. Part of that is on me, but it’s just hard to read the track. I couldn’t really hear anyone, and I didn’t see anyone to my inside, then all of a sudden, Logan got a good run and slid me. Right after that, I knew where I needed to be, and I was able to kind of stay with him. I wasn’t catching him, and I wasn’t gaining on him, but I got some luck and that’s how it goes sometimes.”
A bit further back, trouble struck Kyle Cummins, who won a USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship feature on these very grounds of Circle City Raceway just 10 nights earlier. Contact on lap 22 sent the 11th running Cummins tumbling in turn four, causing substantial front end damage to his ride, which sent Cummins to the sidelines for good.
All by his lonesome and possessing a hefty 1.26 second margin of lead over second running Kofoid with a mere three laps to go, trouble reached its cruel hand out to Seavey when the car’s ignition switch fell apart, forcing him to the infield and out of the race on lap 28.
Now thrusted to the lead, Kofoid went untouched over the remaining three laps to earn a comfortable 2.575 second victory on the quarter-mile dirt oval located on the southeast side of Indianapolis, Ind. with Jacob Denney bringing home second and Bryant Wiedeman in third.
However, it was anything but comfortable for the rest of the field coming to the checkered flag. In the preceding laps, a jumble of roughly 10 drivers duked it out for a position inside the top-five. Ryan Timms, heavily involved at the forefront of the spot jostling, wound up stopped backwards at the turn four exit, dropping him from fifth to 19th in the final results.
Tanner Thorson eked through the madness to earn a season-best fourth while Emerson Axsom traversed from 12th to fifth during the final two laps to round out the top-five at the checkered flag.
Jacob Denney (Galloway, Ohio) extended his point lead in both the USAC Indiana Midget Week and USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship standings by virtue of his runner-up finish at Circle City, his third-straight top-two result with the series in his Tom Malloy/Trench Shoring – Rodela Specialty Fabrication/King/Ed Pink Toyota.
It was the best performance of the year for Bryant Wiedeman (Colby, Kan.) who made a valiant charge through the field from 15th to third in his Nutrien Ag Solutions – PristineAuction.com – K & C Drywall/Spike/Speedway Toyota. It was Wiedeman’s best such finish since joining CB Industries at the start of the 2023 campaign.
In two career USAC National Midget starts at Circle City, Tanner Thorson (Minden, Nev.) has now advanced a whopping 21 total positions. He went 16th to 8th in 2021 and 17th to 4th on Monday night to earn a $100 Hard Charger bonus courtesy of Irvin King.
Furthermore, Kevin Thomas Jr. (Cullman, Ala.) set fast qualifying time with the USAC National Midgets for the sixth straight season on Monday night. Only he and Logan Seavey currently hold the distinction of earning at least one Honest Abe Roofing fast qualifying time with the series each year between 2018 and 2023.
FEATURE: (30 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Buddy Kofoid (2), 2. Jacob Denney (6), 3. Bryant Wiedeman (15), 4. Tanner Thorson (17), 5. Emerson Axsom (3), 6. Cannon McIntosh (9), 7. Taylor Reimer (19), 8. Jade Avedisian (11), 9. Justin Grant (5), 10. Kevin Thomas Jr. (10), 11. Daison Pursley (8), 12. Jake Andreotti (12), 13. Thomas Meseraull (18), 14. Daniel Whitley (13), 15. Jesse Love (14), 16. Chase McDermand (23-P), 17. Hayden Reinbold (20), 18. Bryan Stanfill (22), 19. Ryan Timms (4), 20. Logan Seavey (7), 21. Chance Crum (16), 22. Kyle Cummins (21), 23. Gavin Miller (1). NT
(P) represents a provisional starter
USAC NOS ENERGY DRINK MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Jacob Denney-359, 2-Daison Pursley-292, 3-Jade Avedisian-290, 4-Bryant Wiedeman-267, 5-Justin Grant-257, 6-Logan Seavey-249, 7-Jake Andreotti-246, 8-Cannon McIntosh-241, 9-Thomas Meseraull-234, 10-Chase McDermand-233.
USAC INDIANA MIDGET WEEK POINTS: 1-Jacob Denney-158, 2-Buddy Kofoid-151, 3-Jade Avedisian-108, 4-Jake Andreotti-105, 5-Bryant Wiedeman-99, 6-Emerson Axsom-98, 7-Logan Seavey-98, 8-Kevin Thomas Jr.-98, 9-Daison Pursley-98, 10-Justin Grant-97.