By: Richie Murray – USAC Media
LAWRENCEBURG, IN – Despite Lawrenceburg Speedway being his own self-described “favorite racetrack,” Buddy Kofoid had felt the frustrations of finishing as the runner-up during the 3/8-mile dirt oval’s USAC Indiana Midget Week round in each of his two previous appearances in 2020 and 2021.
But this Saturday night was different. Kofoid exorcised the demons to break through for his first triumphant performance at the southeastern Indiana high banks in round two of the 18th annual edition of Indiana Midget Week.
Yet, of late, it seems as if every track is the Penngrove, California native’s favorite as he notched his fourth consecutive USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship feature victory, making him the first to accomplish the feat since Kyle Larson captured four-straight in a span that overlapped the end of the 2012 season and the start of 2013.
Only eight previous drivers in the 67-year history of USAC National Midget racing have strung together four-in-a-row: Shorty Templeman (1956), Mel Kenyon (1969), Rich Vogler (1979), Kevin Olson (1987), Rich Vogler (1988), Billy Boat (1995-96), Dave Darland (2003) and Kyle Larson (2012-13).
Now standing on the cusp of equaling Rich Vogler’s all-time record winning streak of five, set in 1978, Kofoid now has a shot at tying the mark on Sunday, June 5, at Tri-State Speedway in Haubstadt, Ind.
Kofoid’s reign of domination continued Saturday with his second Fatheadz Qualifying fast time award in the past three calendar nights, after it took him nearly two years to grab his first in November of 2021. Kofoid slashed his way to the second position on the opening lap from his sixth starting spot, then secured the lead by lap three after exchanging sliders with Justin Grant on the skyscraper steep banks twice a lap for two consecutive trips around the oval.
Kofoid’s winning performance in his Keith Kunz-Curb-Agajanian Motorsports/Mobil 1 – Toyota – TRD/Bullet By Spike/Speedway Toyota netted him his 13th career USAC National Midget feature win, putting him on the same stat line as Steve Knepper, Don Meacham, Ryan Newman, Stevie Reeves and Chris Windom. Likewise, Kofoid’s performance provided team owner Keith Kunz with his 126th series win as an entrant, moving him a tick closer to the all-time win record held by Steve Lewis at 133.
Entering as the odds-on favorite, Kofoid came, he saw, and he conquered at a venue he revealed that he’d someday like to promote a racing event at. But on Saturday night, Kofoid was on the side of cashing the checks instead of issuing them, which was all peachy keen with him. After all, it’s something he’s been doing an awful lot of lately, especially over the past three nights, all of which have resulted in Kofoid victories.
“It’s just so damn fun,” Kofoid said of Lawrenceburg Speedway. “This is probably one of the best Lawrenceburgs I’ve ever seen, up on the fence like that, cowboy up; it’s exactly how I like it, and what I came from in California. The first time I came here, I fell in love with it, and just kept chipping away. I ran sixth with the World of Outlaws, then fourth, then ran second with the midget and, finally, was one spot better tonight.
“I didn’t feel great after the heat race, and I was kind of nervous,” Kofoid continued. “It’s kind of tough to pass when it gets strung out but, finally, I got to the lead and was able to control the race.”
Just moments after Kofoid secured the race lead on lap three, the night’s wildest incident took place when Cannon McIntosh (8th) clipped the infield berm entering turn three, then slid up into the middle of the racetrack where his car promptly stalled and placed him in a precarious situation. McIntosh’s ride was clobbered first by Chase McDermand (14th), then Kaylee Bryson (16th), sending all three flipping upside down. McIntosh and McDermand’s machines received extensive damage that prevented them from restarting, while Bryson did return to finish 16th.
Grant fired an attempted slider at Kofoid for the lead in turn one on lap 11 but came up short, allowing Kofoid to shoot away once more with 1/3 of the race in the books until Hayden Reinbold (12th) flipped upside down on the back straightaway on lap 14.
Nearing midway, the star of the show suddenly became Jacob Denney, making just his fourth series start after capturing back-to-back USAC Midwest Thunder SpeeD2 Midget titles in 2020-21. He started 13th, but had dug his way on the bottom early, then surged all the way to 3rd behind Kofoid and Grant who were ripping the top and running 1-2 by the midway point of the 30-lapper.
Meanwhile, Kofoid had hustled on the fence to a half-straight advantage over Grant with nine laps remaining until 18th running Blake Brannon’s spin and stop in turn two on lap 22. Nonetheless, Kofoid picked up where he left off on the ensuing restart in order to reconstruct his advantage on the stretch run.
“I didn’t know I was going to get to the lead that quickly,” Kofoid admitted. “But once I got to open air, I figured I would run the wall all the way around, and then I hit it bad getting into turn three one time. I almost landed back at the trailer and figured I didn’t want to do that again. Last year, I was able to slide myself and actually make speed to stay even and almost catch the leader, so I figured if I could cut the corner short and get to the cushion really fast, that I could make speed. But it got dirtier and slower, and I decided to try it one time, and then hit it right, and I was able to keep tweaking my entry a little bit. Finally, I got it to where I could carry a ton of speed; that was a hell of a good time.”
Behind Kofoid, the battle raged on for second as Denney dipped under Grant for the runner-up position briefly with four laps remaining entering turn one. Grant saw and felt the pressure and slammed the proverbial door on Denney as he cut to the bottom to steal Denney’s preferred line away.
Ahead of them, however, Kofoid went unfettered, unchallenged and unflappable as he closed out his impressive performance with a 1.581 second score ahead of Grant and Bryant Wiedeman who snuck into third on the white flag lap past Denney to equal his best career series result. Denney finished a career-best fourth as did Jace Park in fifth.
Grant (Ione, Calif.) finished second in his RMS Racing/NOS Energy Drink – EnviroFab – Response Management Services/Spike/Speedway Toyota to earn his seventh consecutive top-five result with the series.
Wiedeman’s sensational sophomore season put him into the top-10 for the seventh time in seven starts with the series this year aboard his Keith Kunz-Curb-Agajanian/Yerf Dog – Coleman Powersports/Bullet By Spike/Speedway Toyota. The Colby, Kan. native tied his best career series finish of 3rd, which he had set in November of 2021 at Placerville (Calif.) Speedway.
USAC NOS ENERGY DRINK MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: June 4, 2022 – Lawrenceburg Speedway – Lawrenceburg, Indiana – 3/8-Mile Dirt Track – 18th Annual Indiana Midget Week
FATHEADZ EYEWEAR QUALIFYING: 1. Buddy Kofoid, 67, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-14.817; 2. Thomas Meseraull, 7x, RMS-14.845; 3. Jace Park, 87, CBI-14.911; 4. Mitchel Moles, 89, CBI-14.915; 5. Justin Grant, 2J, RMS-14.945; 6. Jason McDougal, 19, Reinbold/Underwood-15.022; 7. Jade Avedisian, 84, CBI-15.024; 8. Taylor Reimer, 25K, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-15.027; 9. Bryant Wiedeman, 01, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-15.032; 10. Logan Seavey, 25, Malloy-15.033; 11. Hayden Reinbold, 19AZ, Reinbold/Underwood-15.048; 12. Jacob Denney, 61, Mounce/Stout-15.174; 13. Chase McDermand, 40, Mounce/Stout-15.187; 14. Cannon McIntosh, 08, Dave Mac-15.199; 15. Maria Cofer, 57, Abacus-15.221; 16.Sam Johnson, 72J, Johnson-15.240; 17. Ethan Mitchell, 19m, Bundy Built-15.282; 18. Kaylee Bryson, 71, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-15.333; 19. Kyle Cummins, 3G, Styres-15.457; 20. Brenham Crouch, 97, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-15.462; 21. Cade Lewis, 71m, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-15.784; 22. Travis Buckley, 7NZ, BSL-16.024; 23. Mariah Ede, 71E, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-16.024; 24. Blake Brannon, 40B, Western Speed-16.269.
SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS FIRST HEAT: (8 laps, top-5 transfer to the feature) 1. Jade Avedisian, 2. Buddy Kofoid, 3. Mitchel Moles, 4. Chase McDermand, 5. Sam Johnson, 6. Logan Seavey, 7. Kyle Cummins, 8. Travis Buckley. 2:01.02
COMPETITION SUSPENSION (CSI) SECOND HEAT: (8 laps, top-5 transfer to the feature) 1. Cannon McIntosh, 2. Thomas Meseraull, 3. Taylor Reimer, 4. Justin Grant, 5. Ethan Mitchell, 6. Hayden Reinbold, 7. Brenham Crouch, 8. Mariah Ede. 2:03.84
PIT STOP USA/ROD END SUPPLY THIRD HEAT: (8 laps, top-5 transfer to the feature) 1. Bryant Wiedeman, 2. Kaylee Bryson, 3. Jason McDougal, 4. Jacob Denney, 5. Jace Park, 6. Cade Lewis, 7. Blake Brannon, 8. Maria Cofer. NT
FEATURE: (30 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Buddy Kofoid (6), 2. Justin Grant (2), 3. Bryant Wiedeman (8), 4. Jacob Denney (13), 5. Jace Park (4), 6. Jason McDougal (1), 7. Thomas Meseraull (5), 8. Mitchel Moles (3), 9. Kyle Cummins (19), 10. Logan Seavey (11), 11. Taylor Reimer (10), 12. Brenham Crouch (20), 13. Cade Lewis (21), 14. Jade Avedisian (7), 15. Ethan Mitchell (17), 16. Kaylee Bryson (18), 17. Mariah Ede (23), 18. Blake Brannon (24), 19. Travis Buckley (22), 20. Sam Johnson (16), 21. Maria Cofer (15), 22. Hayden Reinbold (12), 23. Cannon McIntosh (9), 24. Chase McDermand (14). NT
**Mariah Ede flipped during qualifying. Cannon McIntosh, Chase McDermand & Kaylee Bryson flipped on lap three of the feature. Hayden Reinbold flipped on lap 14 of the feature.
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-2 Justin Grant, Laps 3-30 Buddy Kofoid.