By: Richie Murray – USAC Media
FAIRBURY, NE – Chris Windom withstood Buddy Kofoid’s repeated, relentless challenges down the stretch, including during a hellacious final four lap trophy dash to the finish, to capture his third USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget feature victory of the season in Friday night’s Riverside Chevrolet-Buick-Cadillac Midwest Midget Championship presented by Westin Meats & Schmidt’s Sanitation at Fairbury, Nebraska’s Jefferson County Speedway.
In a 30-lap feature that was stop-and-start throughout, with a number of cautions and a pair of red flags impeding the proceedings, Windom worked his way to the lead just prior to midway after pole sitter Ethan Mitchell led the first four laps of his USAC career while Cannon McIntosh controlled the front of the pack from lap five until Windom worked his way by on the 12th circuit just following a restart.
Windom found it much easier to catch rather than pass at the 1/5-mile dirt oval on this particular night. However, Windom felt that door was being left open on restarts, which allowed him to get a run to take the top spot from McIntosh after multiple attempts in turn three on back-to-back laps. Windom officially claimed the number one position just prior to a caution for the stopped car of Cole Bodine in turn four on lap 13.
A rhythm was difficult to find as the laps clicked away on the southeastern Nebraska metronome, but Windom was right on beat as he opened up his lead to 1.5 seconds and encroached on the tail of the field in the waning stages.
Yet, as Windom began to track down traffic that was running three and four-wide at times, Kofoid was right on his trail, closing to within a couple car lengths of Windom with four laps remaining.
In the thick of the battle, third running Tanner Thorson, who had earlier set Fatheadz Fast Qualifying time, spun to a stop in turn two to bring out the final yellow. While another stoppage wasn’t ideal for the rhythm section of the equation, Windom wasn’t all that bummed to see the yellow light.
“I was really happy to see that caution because, actually, under the last caution, I had leaned the car down and I forgot to turn the fuel back on. I felt like we were running on six cylinders and thought we were blowing up. It was really just my own fault there, so luckily, we got that figured out.”
Now without traffic as a hindrance, Windom had another battle to wage, the one under his helmet, where he had to decide where on the track to go in order to keep a hungry, first-win-seeking Kofoid behind him.
“The restart, and a couple of laps after the restarts, were the toughest part, really,” Windom explained. “You could get such a big run if you threw a slider into one. It was hard to decide, as the leader, whether to go to the top or slide yourself and lose momentum. At the end of the day, it all worked out, but it was definitely a hellacious last couple of laps.”
It worked out A-Okay for Windom during the first couple of laps following the restart, but Kofoid was setting up his next move that he ultimately made with two laps remaining, sliding by Windom entering the first turn with little room to spare. Windom made contact with the rear bumper of Kofoid, elevating all four wheels of Windom’s Tucker-Boat Motorsports/NOS Energy Drink – Pristine Auction/Spike/Speedway Toyota off the racing surface.
“He ran us hard there, and when he slid me in one and two, I just ran him hard back,” Windom recalled. “That’s how you have to pass guys here, though. No fault of him, really, sliding me hard. I felt like I had taken control of the race, though, and I was really not going to let that slip away at the end, so I did what I had to do to keep the win.”
Once Windom landed on all fours, he took off straight for the bottom of turn three as Daison Pursley stuck a nose in to the battle to briefly make it three-wide on the back straightaway. Windom got to the bottom first, exited off turn four and, as he sped underneath the white flag, attempted to jet back to the bottom of turn one, resulting in contact between Kofoid’s front chrome and Windom’s rear bumper.
That move slowed up Windom’s momentum off turn two, but Kofoid was only able to get half a car length under Windom as Windom made a beeline back to the bottom of turn three, forcing Kofoid and Pursley to try high as a last ditch effort, to no avail, as Windom sprinted to the checkered flag for the fifth time in his USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget career by two car lengths over Kofoid, Pursley, Tyler Thomas and Cannon McIntosh.
While Windom came into Jefferson County as the point leader, he has been a force all year with top-five finishes in all but one of his 12 series starts. Despite that fact, the Canton, Ill. driver readily admitted that it was during Indiana Midget Week, where they won five of six races, that the individuals on the crew and behind the wheel realized how much potential they had.
“Having (Kyle) Larson come in and run with us, it definitely made everyone step their game up a little bit,” Windom revealed of the four-time IMW 2020 winner and champion. “He gets 100 percent out of the racetrack every single night and makes you be better. We had already won a race and run up front, but he definitely showed how much speed there really is in these cars. It’s nice to be able to keep showing it and keep picking off the wins.”
USAC NOS ENERGY DRINK MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: July 17, 2020 – Jefferson County Speedway – Fairbury, Nebraska – 1/5-Mile Dirt Oval – Riverside Chevrolet-Buick-Cadillac Midwest Midget Championship presented by Westin Meats & Schmidt’s Sanitation / Chad McDaniel Night
FATHEADZ EYEWEAR QUALIFYING: 1. Tanner Thorson, 19, Hayward-10.772; 2. Chris Windom, 89, Tucker/Boat-10.773; 3. Cannon McIntosh, 71K, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-10.812; 4. Jerry Coons Jr., 85, Central-10.849; 5. Robert Dalby, 4, Dalby-10.867; 6. Ethan Mitchell, 19m, Bundy Built-10.898; 7. Tyler Courtney, 7BC, Clauson/Marshall-10.909; 8. Kaylee Bryson, 71, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-10.911; 9. Tanner Carrick, 35, Petry-10.918; 10. Daison Pursley, 9, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-10.924; 11. Emerson Axsom, 15, Petry-10.931; 12. Cole Bodine, 39BC, Clauson/Marshall-10.956; 13. Sam Johnson, 72, Johnson-11.000; 14. Buddy Kofoid, 67, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-11.001; 15. Tyler Thomas, 91T, Thomas-11.002; 16. Andrew Layser, 82, Tucker/Boat-11.004; 17. Keith Rauch, 27B, Bourke-11.198; 18. Emilio Hoover, 21K, Reynolds-11.234; 19. Tony Rossi, 14, Rossi-11.282; 20. Kyle Jones, 7u, Tri-Fecta-11.419; 21. Carson Garrett, 15x, Garrett-11.462; 22. Zac Taylor, 71T, Henry-11.525; 23. Chris Sheil, 91, Mason-11.577; 24. Lance Bennett, 10, Bennett-11.865; 25. Curtis Spicer, 4s, Spicer-11.964; 26. Collin Rinehart, 6, Rinehart-12.006; 27. A.J. Valim, 4T, Valim-12.180; 28. J.R. Ewing, 2c, Ewing-12.878; 29. Trey Gropp, 00, Mounce-NT.
SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS FIRST HEAT: (10 laps, top-5 transfer to the feature) 1. Tyler Courtney, 2. Andrew Layser, 3. Daison Pursley, 4. Tanner Thorson, 5. Jerry Coons Jr., 6. Sam Johnson, 7. Tony Rossi, 8. Zac Taylor, 9. Curtis Spicer, 10. J.R. Ewing. 1:58.120
COMPETITION SUSPENSION (CSI) SECOND HEAT: (10 laps, top-5 transfer to the feature) 1. Buddy Kofoid, 2. Chris Windom, 3. Emerson Axsom, 4. Keith Rauch, 5. Robert Dalby, 6. Chris Sheil, 7. Collin Rinehart, 8. Kyle Jones, 9. Kaylee Bryson. NT
AUTOMETER THIRD HEAT: (10 laps, top-5 transfer to the feature) 1. Tyler Thomas, 2. Tanner Carrick, 3. Cannon McIntosh, 4. Ethan Mitchell, 5. Cole Bodine, 6. Emilio Hoover, 7. Carson Garrett, 8. Lance Bennett, 9. A.J. Valim. 1:59.652
INDY RACE PARTS/INDY METAL FINISHING SEMI: (12 laps, top-7 transfer to the feature) 1. Sam Johnson, 2. Emilio Hoover, 3. Carson Garrett, 4. Kaylee Bryson, 5. Chris Sheil, 6. Zac Taylor, 7. Tony Rossi, 8. Lance Bennett, 9. Collin Rinehart, 10. A.J. Valim, 11. Curtis Spicer, 12. J.R. Ewing, 13. Kyle Jones. 2:24.855 (New Track Record)
FEATURE: (30 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Chris Windom (5), 2. Buddy Kofoid (8), 3. Daison Pursley (12), 4. Tyler Thomas (9), 5. Cannon McIntosh (4), 6. Ethan Mitchell (1), 7. Andrew Layser (15), 8. Emerson Axsom (13), 9. Sam Johnson (19), 10. Jerry Coons Jr. (3), 11. Tanner Carrick (11), 12. Tanner Thorson (6), 13. Cole Bodine (14), 14. Keith Rauch (16), 15. Chris Sheil (22), 16. Zac Taylor (21), 17. Emilio Hoover (17), 18. Tony Rossi (18), 19. Kaylee Bryson (10), 20. Carson Garrett (20), 21. Robert Dalby (2), 22. Tyler Courtney (7). NT
**Robert Dalby flipped on lap 8 of the feature. Tony Rossi flipped on lap 14 of the feature.
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-4 Ethan Mitchell, Laps 5-11 Cannon McIntosh, Laps 12-30 Chris Windom.
NEW USAC NOS ENERGY DRINK MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Chris Windom-820, 2-Buddy Kofoid-749, 3-Tanner Thorson-714, 4-Tyler Courtney-698, 5-Cannon McIntosh-648, 6-Tanner Carrick-593, 7-Daison Pursley-525, 8-Cole Bodine-503, 9-Justin Grant-489, 10-Andrew Layser-460.
NEW OVERALL PROSOURCE PASSING MASTER POINTS: 1-Chris Windom-64, 2-Tanner Thorson-57, 3-Logan Seavey-54, 4-Justin Grant-41, 5-Andrew Layser-39, 6-Daison Pursley-36, 7-Cannon McIntosh-32, 8-Kevin Thomas Jr.-30, 9-Brady Bacon-29, 10-Chase Stockon-28.
NEXT USAC NOS ENERGY DRINK MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE: July 18, 2020 – Jefferson County Speedway – Fairbury, Nebraska – 1/5-Mile Dirt Oval – Midwest Midget Championship
CONTINGENCY AWARD WINNERS:
Fatheadz Eyewear Fast Qualifier: Tanner Thorson
Simpson Race Products First Heat Winner: Tyler Courtney
Competition Suspension, Inc. Second Heat Winner: Buddy Kofoid
AutoMeter Third Heat Winner: Tyler Thomas
Indy Race Parts / Indy Metal Finishing Semi Winner: Sam Johnson
Saldana Racing Products First Non-Transfer: Lance Bennett
KSE Racing Products/B & W Auto Mart Hard Charger: Sam Johnson (19th to 9th)
Wilwood Brakes 13th Place Finisher: Cole Bodine