By Richie Murray – USAC Media
SPEEDWAY, IN-Daison Pursley will compete on the USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship tour full-time as he and KO Motorsports will take on the full series schedule in 2023.
The Locust Grove, Okla. driver has just four career sprint car appearances without a wing in his career, three of which have come in USAC events. Pursley has made his name over the past few seasons on the USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship trail for Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports where he’s won twice.
In addition to a USAC National Sprint Car championship run, Pursley will also pursue Rookie of the Year honors with the series in 2023 starting with the first points races of the season on February 16-17-18 at Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala, Fla.
Pursley competed in two USAC Sprint Car features for KKM in 2022, finishing 13th at Circle City Raceway and 12th at Tri-State Speedway. However, his debut runs came toward the end of 2021 with KO, finishing 8th with USAC and an impressive 2nd with the Midwest Sprint Car Series, both at Tri-State.
This is a dream for Pursley, and he’s prepared to make the most of the opportunity that lies in front of him.
“To go full-time USAC Sprint Car racing is absolutely unbelievable,” Pursley exclaimed. “In 2021, I got to dabble with the sprint car a little bit with KO. I was fortunate enough to run one of their great cars at Tri-State. To go full-time, I’m really excited for it and I’m thankful for the opportunity.”
Of his four sprint car starts, three have come at Tri-State, meaning Pursley will face a full slate of new experiences head on as he competes at a number of new racetracks in a relatively new, for him, type of racecar. Pursley relishes the opportunity and embraces the challenges that he’ll face in the coming year.
“With sprint cars being a bigger car (than a midget), you’ve just got to put yourself in different situations,” Pursley explained. “But I feel like it’s still kind of hard for me to know at this point. Three out of the four non-wing races I’ve run have all been at Tri-State and I know it’s a completely different kind of track. So far, I just feel like I’ve had to get used to being that sideways around the whole track and learn how to be able to carry that much speed with being that crossed up and sideways.”
With initial plans to race with KO frequently in 2022, those plans were put on hold when Pursley suffered a serious neck injury in a midget accident at Arizona Speedway which required substantial time recovering in a hospital. Those plans were shelved for the time being until Pursley was ready to make his comeback. After making his midget return in September – nearly 10 months after his incident – Pursley is now prepped and ready to get after it with KO.
“I just felt like I was getting back into the swing of things this past year, and I felt really good in the driver’s seat,” Pursley revealed. “The results didn’t always show, but every time I hopped in the car, I felt good, and I was able to drive the car 110 percent, and sometimes that was definitely too hard. I’m just trying to find those limits again and figure out how hard I can race the car. I feel like I’m around 85 percent of where I want to be and it’s continuously getting better. I’m very blessed that my progress hasn’t stopped and continues to get better every single day.”
KO Motorsports team manager Kent Schmidt has winning experience in the USAC National Sprint Car ranks with Chase Stockon as the team’s driver, picking up multiple wins and an Indiana Sprint Week championship in 2020 in addition to back-to-back MSCS titles in 2021-22. Schmidt loves what he has seen out of Pursley both on and off the track and is thrilled to bring him on board once more for the upcoming season.
“We’re really looking forward to racing with Daison and his family in 2023,” Schmidt stated. “Daison has intentions to run for a USAC National Sprint Car championship, just the same as we do. To come back from what he has endured is remarkable, and I’m really looking forward to working with him. This is going to be an exciting year.”
Pursley will also have Stockon’s tutelage by his side as a teammate of his on the KO team. Stockon’s 408 career USAC National Sprint Car starts rank seventh all-time while accruing 14 feature wins and the respect of his peers, something Pursley shares.
“I’ll be with a good group to help set me straight as I get my feet wet in non-wing sprint car racing,” Pursley related. “With Chase being there, it’ll be a really good team where I can lean on him because he’s been through it all.”