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USAC National Midgets set for Kokomo Grand Prix


The USAC NOS Energy National Midgets are set to start 2024 with this weekend's Kokomo Grand Prix. File Photo Courtesy: USAC Media - Photographer: Brian Bouder Photo

Series News Release - USAC Media

Feature Article by: Richie Murray, USAC Media


Kokomo, Indiana (April 26, 2024) - It’s been 686 days since we’ve last witnessed a USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship event at Indiana’s Kokomo Speedway.


Putting things in perspective, it’s been a mere 1092 days since we’ve last been able to enjoy a Kokomo Grand Prix feature race. It’s not like we’ve been counting the day or anything, right?


Well, we have. Withdrawals, sure. Anticipation, absolutely! We’ve all been waiting for this moment for a while, so when Mother Nature pushed this week’s schedule back a bit further, what’s another day of waiting when it comes to USAC Midget racing at Indiana’s Baddest Bullring?


The moment has finally arrived as this Saturday and Sunday, April 27-28, Kokomo Speedway welcomes the USAC National Midget season into its 69th campaign. Very nice.

Here are six storylines that we're watching this weekend.



LOGAN LOGGING RECORDS


How's Logan Seavey Racing doing? In his last 22 USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget feature starts, he owns eight wins, 20 top-fives and 22 top-tens, a run which started in June of 2023.


A 23rd straight top-10 finish by Seavey on Saturday would break the series record set by Jason Leffler in 1997. Leffler rode that streak into a series title in 1997, then followed up the next year in 1998 by winning the championship again. It’s certainly a feat Seavey would like to repeat in the 2024 season.


Seavey, the defending USAC National Midget champion from Sutter, Calif., has made five previous Kokomo Grand Prix starts dating back to his Rookie season of 2018. Since then, he’s only finished outside of the top-eight once with a best result of sixth in 2019.



CANNON REMEMBERS THE DATE


It's been 84 years. Well, not quite, but it certainly feels as if it’s been that long since Kokomo Speedway hosted a USAC National Midget event.


The date was June 11, 2022, and it’s a time and place that Cannon McIntosh certainly remembers very well. That night, after a lengthy rain delay, McIntosh set the fastest qualifying time, then powered to the front within the first nine laps, then carried on to the win after starting back in the sixth position.


This year, McIntosh (Bixby, Okla.) returns to a new, but highly familiar setting. After running the full 2020 USAC season with Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports where he won twice and finished fifth in the standings, McIntosh has returned to the KKM team for 2024. McIntosh’s best Kokomo Grand Prix run to date was a second in 2021.

                                                                                                                                       


AXSOM BACK AT HIS BREAKTHROUGH TRACK


Due to the shift in the Kokomo schedule to a Saturday/Sunday program, that opened up the schedule for Emerson Axsom to take part in the event which holds a special meaning to him and his career.


On the opening night of the KGP in 2021, Axsom (Franklin, Ind.) went undaunted as he traversed the 30-lap distance with style to collect his first career USAC National Midget feature victory.


In 2023, Axsom recorded five runner-up finishes in USAC National Midget competition and led a total of 104 laps, but a victory eluded him. It could be a substantial week for Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports. Mike Curb is already the winningest entrant in the history of USAC national racing with 198. Two more triumphs this week would give the record company executive and former lieutenant governor of California 200 series wins.



KTJ A KGP HISTORY MAKER


The closest finish in the history of the Kokomo Grand Prix came via Kevin Thomas Jr. during the 2019 edition of the event.


After flipping while battling for the lead in the subsequent sprint car race held just before the midget A-Main, Thomas (Cullman, Ala.) took a wild ride down as he flipped down the back straightaway. Several moments later, back behind the wheel of a midget, KTJ laid it all on the line on the final corner to score with a slide job for the win.


Thomas is the only driver to start all 10 feature events in the history of the Kokomo Grand Prix dating back to 2014. In that span, Thomas has collected five top-fives and has only finished outside the top-10 once.



SPRINTING INTO MIDGET SUCCESS?


Between Justin Grant, Kyle Cummins and Logan Seavey, the trio possesses four Kokomo Speedway sprint car track championships, 15 career USAC National Sprint Car victories at Kokomo and a combined six USAC national driving titles. However, none of them have captured a USAC National Midget main event at Kokomo. Yet.


Grant (Ione, Calif.) is tied for the all-time lead in USAC National Sprint Car wins at Kokomo with nine. The 2017-19-21 Kokomo champ’s best Kokomo Grand Prix result to date came in a razor-thin margin second place run in 2019 to Kevin Thomas Jr.


Cummins (Princeton, Ind.) has scored five USAC Sprint Car wins over the years at Kokomo as well as the 2022 track title. He delivered a best Kokomo Grand Prix run of 10th back in 2021.


Seavey, meanwhile, grabbed his first and only career Kokomo USAC Sprint Car victory, to date, in 2019. Seavey’s Abacus Racing team is now eying its first Kokomo win together this weekend.



NEW YEAR, NEW ME


The first event of the season is always a thrilling time to get a firsthand account of all the new teams, driver combinations and color schemes. This season has its fair share from all three of those columns.


Zach Daum (Pocahontas, Ill.) is returning for his first full USAC season since 2014 for RAMCO Speed Group with whom he won at the Belleville (Kan.) Short Track in 2023. Kevin Thomas Jr. is the wheelman at the controls of the Mounce-Stout Motorsports ride with which he made nine USAC starts with a year ago. Two-time USAC National Midget winner Daison Pursley (Locust Grove, Okla.) has moved over to the CB Industries team for a full year of USAC duty.


4 Kings Racing is the newest team on the scene and will provide two full-time USAC entries for second year USAC national driver Jake Andreotti (Castro Valley, Calif.) and Matt Westfall (Pleasant Hill, Ohio), one of the founders of the team who is chasing USAC Midget points for the first time in his career which spans more than a quarter-century.


Kyle Jones (Kennedale, Texas) and Joyner Motorsports have teamed up for their first full-out USAC effort in 2024. Daniel Whitley (Ferndale, Calif.) will drive the Griffiths Motorsport No. 75 at Kokomo after spending last season with Abacus Racing.


USAC Rookie contenders Zach Wigal (CB Industries), plus Ashton Torgerson (Glendale, Ariz.) and Kale Drake (Collinsville, Okla.) from the Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports who also find themselves in new territory.


On the flip side, in a continuation of last year, several more are returning to the teams they have familiarized themselves with in year’s past, including full-timers Justin Grant (RMS Racing), Jacob Denney (Tom Malloy), Ryan Timms (Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports) and Gavin Miller (Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports), plus Kokomo competitors Kyle Cummins (Glenn Styres Racing), Adam Taylor (Adam Taylor Motorsports), Ethan Mitchell (Bundy Built Motorsports), Justin Dickerson (Mick Dickerson) and Kenney Johnson (Jeff Johnson).



RACE DETAILS


The Kokomo Grand Prix will feature the USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship and Kokomo Sprint Cars on each night at the 1/4-mile dirt oval. On both nights, the pits will open at 3pm Eastern with the grandstands opening at 3pm. The drivers meeting is set for 5:30pm with cars hitting the track at 6pm followed by hot laps, qualifying and racing.


Adult general admission tickets for each night of the Kokomo Grand Prix are $30 with kids age 12 and under free. Pit passes are $35 apiece each night.

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