By: Richie Murray – USAC Media
Gas City, Indiana (June 17, 2020)………Wednesday morning began with a bounty being placed upon Kyle Larson’s head. At the end of the day, he remained elusive to all his challengers vying to catch him.
Larson took over the lead with 13 laps remaining after charging from the 14th starting position to the front in rapid fire succession to win the second round of the 16th annual Indiana Midget Week series Wednesday night at Gas City I-69 Speedway.
The victory was Larson’s second-in-a-row at Indiana Midget Week after winning the series opener on Tuesday at Paragon Speedway. And, going back to last year, it’s the fifth USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget victory he’s earned in his last five series starts.
He entered Gas City seeking his seventh-straight victory between World of Outlaws, All Star and USAC competition, thus earlier in the day, Richard and Jennifer Marshall of Priority Aviation put up a $1,000 bounty on Larson for the remainder of Indiana Midget Week.
The deal is that anybody who can beat Larson and win a feature this week will collect a minimum extra $1,000 bonus. If Larson does win the feature, the money will be donated to the Indiana Donor Network in Larson’s name.
On this night, it appeared at first that the bounty might have a glimmer of hope of being collected by another driver. That came after Larson missed the transfer spot in his heat, then finished third, but still transferred to the feature where he’d have to start on the outside of row seven for the 30-lap feature.
It’s a tall task to ask of any driver to accomplish, to pass that many cars in such a short timeframe against such stout competition.
But, then again, haven’t we learned time-after-time to never doubt what the Elk Grove, Calif. native can do?
Defending USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget champion Tyler Courtney jumped to the lead at the start of the feature and held the top spot convincingly from his pole starting position. However, as you glanced back a few cars into the field, two mid-pack starting cars in particular had made a heady charge to the front: Cannon McIntosh and Larson.
McIntosh sprinted from 12th to 4th by the second lap and was in the top-three by lap four while Larson followed suit into the top-six by the fifth lap and into the top-five by lap eight. Larson was observant in mimicking what McIntosh had found of the track surface, and ultimately helped himself in advancing up through the running order in a hurry.
“Coming from 14th like we did there, that was a lot of fun,” Larson exclaimed. “I saw Cannon (McIntosh) get a really good start at the beginning, and I was like, ‘man, I’ve got to get aggressive here.’ I saw him work the middle that first lap and pass everybody, so I was able to make that work for me the next few laps and really get by a lot of people there.”
On the 11th lap, Larson’s Tucker-Boat teammate, Gio Scelzi, slid wide at the exit of turn four and allowed Larson the crack in the door to capitalize underneath for the fourth position. One lap later, Larson ran down McIntosh in turn two, slipping underneath last year’s Gas City IMW runner-up finisher for third in the running order.
Moments later, however, McIntosh began to slow dramatically, coasting to a stop between turns three and four. Simultaneously, in the same area of the track, Thomas Meseraull flipped wildly while running in the 17th position – a tumultuous night for the defending Gas City Sprint Car track champion who had flipped earlier in qualifying as well.
When racing resumed, Larson went on the attack toward series Rookie Buddy Kofoid for the runner-up spot, but the 18-year-old Kofoid became one of the few to find an answer for Larson. After being slid by Larson, Kofoid slid him back, then successfully defended his position by keeping his foot on the throttle and retaking the second spot at the start/finish line just prior to a lap 16 caution for a turn two tangle involving Brady Bacon and Shane Golobic, thus reverting the order back to the previous complete lap and sending Larson back in front of Kofoid.
On the following restart, Larson sized up Courtney for the first two circuits, then set up for his winning move entering the bottom of turn three on the 18th lap. Larson blew by, slid up to the middle, found the traction, and launched off the exit of turn four to secure the spot as he cut to the bottom to protect himself from a retaliation slider from Courtney in turn one.
Once hitting turn two, Kofoid pounced to take second away from Courtney and inched his way back to Larson in the final third of the race. Kofoid remained within a half second of Larson around the quarter mile, not losing any ground as the laps wound down, but also not gaining much of anything either in the way of closing the interval.
Even when sort of boxed in by Bacon and Robert Dalby on the tail end of the lead lap with just a handful of laps remaining, Larson never turned a wheel wrong and Kofoid was left with peanuts to capitalize on.
Larson’s flawless 30-lap run closed out yet another patented masterful performance as he raced to a 0.263 second victory over Kofoid who, with a 2nd place finish, had his best result with the series. Courtney, Tanner Thorson and Gio Scelzi rounded out the top-five.
The seventh career IMW feature victory for Larson brings him to within two of the series’ all-time winningest driver, Bryan Clauson with nine. Furthermore, Larson’s 21st career USAC National Midget feature triumph elevated him to 28th on the all-time series win list alongside Steve Cannon, Jimmy Caruthers, Rex Easton and Ken Schrader.
In just his second ride in the Tucker-Boat Motorsports/Pristine Auction – K & C Drywall/Spike/Speedway powered No. 86, Larson remains an undefeated two-for-two in IMW with the Gas City win, the second of his career there and first since 2013.
“That car was really, really good,” Larson said. “It surprised me. I knew we’d be good; Chad’s cars are always good. I didn’t know we’d be that good right there in the feature. I got to third by lap 12 and I knew I had a good shot. I got by Buddy and the caution came out, and I got the spot there. I knew I could get runs on people down the backstretch because they weren’t sliding all the way to the edge down the backstretch. I could get a little grip to slide them into three. That was my move that worked for me the second half of the race.”
USAC NOS ENERGY DRINK MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: June 17, 2020 – Gas City I-69 Speedway – Gas City, Indiana – 1/4-Mile Dirt Oval – Indiana Midget Week
FATHEADZ EYEWEAR QUALIFYING: 1. Logan Seavey, 19AZ, Reinbold/Underwood-12.360; 2. Jake Neuman, 3N, Neuman-12.386; 3. Cannon McIntosh, 71K, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-12.444; 4. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., 17s, Clauson/Marshall-12.446; 5. Rico Abreu, 67K, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-12.462; 6. Tanner Carrick, 35, Petry-12.473; 7. Kyle Larson, 86, Tucker/Boat-12.486; 8. Kaylee Bryson, 71, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-12.515; 9. Thomas Meseraull, 7x, RMS-12.517; 10. Buddy Kofoid, 67, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-12.535; 11. Tyler Courtney, 7BC, Clauson/Marshall-12.577; 12. Maria Cofer, 57, Cofer-12.606; 13. Daryn Pittman, 21, Pittman-12.644; 14. Tanner Thorson, 19, Hayward-12.669; 15. Zach Daum, 5D, Daum-12.688; 16. Chris Windom, 89, Tucker/Boat-12.702; 17. Gio Scelzi, 84, Tucker/Boat-12.703; 18. Justin Grant, 4A, RAMS-12.710; 19. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 5, Petry-12.730; 20. Brady Bacon, 4B, Klatt-12.790; 21. Dylan Ito, 73, Ford-12.809; 22. Daison Pursley, 9, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-12.820; 23. Cole Bodine, 39BC, Clauson/Marshall-12.820; 24. Carson Macedo, 21T, Tarlton-12.836; 25. Shane Golobic, 17w, Wood-12.868; 26. Kyle Cummins, 3G, Yeley-12.880; 27. Clinton Boyles, 98, RMS-12.880; 28. Brody Roa, 7m, Iron Dome/Moonshine-12.894; 29. Chase Johnson, 25, Malloy-12.937; 30. Ace McCarthy, 28, Dave Mac-12.944; 31. Jason McDougal, 21KS, Reynolds-12.962; 32. Robert Dalby, 4, Dalby-12.997; 33. Andrew Layser, 82, Tucker/Boat-13.065; 34. Dave Darland, 2ND, Harris-13.099; 35. Jake Swanson, 73T, Ford-13.174; 36. Tyler Nelson, 88, Nelson-13.194; 37. Russ Gamester, 46, Gamester-13.209; 38. Noah Gass, 08, Dave Mac-13.248; 39. Jeff Wimmenauer, 15J, Wimmenauer-13.321; 40. Ronnie Gardner, 7R, Iron Dome/Moonshine-13.330; 41. Ethan Mitchell, 19m, Bundy Built-13.407; 42. Ryan Hall, 2, Bush-13.487; 43. Kameron Gladish, 20, Nolen-13.553; 44. Steve Buckwalter, 25B, Buckwalter-13.576; 45. Hayden Reinbold, 19A, Reinbold/Underwood-13.671; 46. Oliver Akard, 41, Akard-14.190; 47. Justin Dickerson, 21D, Dickerson-14.458; 48. Max McLaughlin, 97K, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-NT.
SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS FIRST HEAT: (10 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Gio Scelzi, 2. Daryn Pittman, 3. Logan Seavey, 4. Shane Golobic, 5. Thomas Meseraull, 6. Rico Abreu, 7. Chase Johnson, 8. Ethan Mitchell, 9. Dylan Ito, 10. Andrew Layser, 11. Russ Gamester, 12. Hayden Reinbold. NT
COMPETITION SUSPENSION (CSI) SECOND HEAT: (10 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Tanner Thorson, 2. Buddy Kofoid, 3. Justin Grant, 4. Tanner Carrick, 5. Jake Neuman, 6. Daison Pursley, 7. Ace McCarthy, 8. Dave Darland, 9. Ryan Hall, 10. Kyle Cummins, 11. Noah Gass, 12. Oliver Akard. NT
AUTOMETER THIRD HEAT: (10 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Kevin Thomas Jr., 2. Zach Daum, 3. Cole Bodine, 4. Tyler Courtney, 5. Kyle Larson, 6. Cannon McIntosh, 7. Jason McDougal, 8. Clinton Boyles, 9. Jake Swanson, 10. Kameron Gladish, 11. Jeff Wimmenauer, 12. Justin Dickerson. 2:12.881
INDY RACE PARTS FOURTH HEAT: (10 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Carson Macedo, 2. Chris Windom, 3. Kaylee Bryson, 4. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., 5. Brady Bacon, 6. Steve Buckwalter, 7. Brody Roa, 8. Maria Cofer, 9. Tyler Nelson, 10. Ronnie Gardner, 11. Robert Dalby. 2:13.862
C-MAIN: (10 laps, top-4 transfer to the semi) 1. Jason McDougal, 2. Andrew Layser, 3. Robert Dalby, 4. Russ Gamester, 5. Dave Darland, 6. Tyler Nelson, 7. Ronnie Gardner, 8. Hayden Reinbold, 9. Kameron Gladish, 10. Justin Dickerson, 11. Oliver Akard, 12. Jake Swanson, 13. Jeff Wimmenauer, 14. Ethan Mitchell, 15. Ryan Hall, 16. Steve Buckwalter. NT
INDY METAL FINISHING SEMI: (12 laps, top-6 transfer to the feature) 1. Rico Abreu, 2. Jake Neuman, 3. Kyle Larson, 4. Thomas Meseraull, 5. Cannon McIntosh, 6. Brady Bacon, 7. Maria Cofer, 8. Chase Johnson, 9. Daison Pursley, 10. Jason McDougal, 11. Clinton Boyles, 12. Kyle Cummins, 13. Brody Roa, 14. Ace McCarthy, 15. Robert Dalby, 16. Dylan Ito, 17. Andrew Layser, 18. Russ Gamester. 2:43.872
FEATURE: (30 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Kyle Larson (14), 2. Buddy Kofoid (2), 3. Tyler Courtney (1), 4. Tanner Thorson (7), 5. Gio Scelzi (8), 6. Jake Neuman (11), 7. Logan Seavey (6), 8. Carson Macedo (10), 9. Tanner Carrick (4), 10. Kaylee Bryson (3), 11. Rico Abreu (13), 12. Justin Grant (19), 13. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (5), 14. Daryn Pittman (16), 15. Chris Windom (18), 16. Kevin Thomas Jr. (9), 17. Daison Pursley (23), 18. Shane Golobic (22), 19. Zach Daum (17), 20. Robert Dalby (24), 21. Brady Bacon (20), 22. Cole Bodine (21), 23. Cannon McIntosh (12), 24. Thomas Meseraull (15). NT
**Max McLaughlin flipped during practice. Thomas Meseraull flipped during qualifying. Noah Gass flipped during the second heat. Ryan Hall flipped during the C-Main. Jake Swanson flipped during the C-Main. Thomas Meseraull flipped on lap 12 of the feature.
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-17 Tyler Courtney, Laps 18-30 Kyle Larson.
NEW USAC NOS ENERGY DRINK MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Tyler Courtney-478, 2-Chris Windom-448, 3-Tanner Thorson-438, 4-Buddy Kofoid-424, 5-Kevin Thomas Jr.-367, 6-Tanner Carrick-357, 7-Cannon McIntosh-340, 8-Logan Seavey-332, 9-Andrew Layser-318, 10-Cole Bodine-312.
NEW INDIANA MIDGET WEEK POINTS: 1-Kyle Larson-155, 2-Tanner Thorson-144, 3-Buddy Kofoid-129, 4-Tyler Courtney-129, 5-Tanner Carrick-117, 6-Ricky Stenhouse Jr.-116, 7-Logan Seavey-114, 8-Justin Grant-111, 9-Chris Windom-105, 10-Jake Neuman-97.
NEW INDIANA MIDGET WEEK PROSOURCE PASSING MASTER POINTS: 1-Kyle Larson-18, 2-Logan Seavey-14, 3-Chris Windom-11, 4-Thomas Meseraull-10, 5-Justin Grant-9, 6-Zach Daum-6, 7-Jake Neuman-5, 8-Shane Golobic-5, 9-Daison Pursley-4, 10-Tanner Thorson-3.
NEW OVERALL PROSOURCE PASSING MASTER POINTS: 1-Logan Seavey-43, 2-Chris Windom-34, 3-Andrew Layser-31, 4-Tanner Thorson-26, 5-Kevin Thomas Jr.-25, 6-Daison Pursley-22, 7-Brady Bacon-20, 8-Mario Clouser-19, 9-Tyler Courtney-18, 10-Tyler Thomas-16.
NEXT USAC NOS ENERGY DRINK MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE: June 18, 2020 – Lincoln Park Speedway – Putnamville, Indiana – 5/16-Mile Dirt Oval – Indiana Midget Week
CONTINGENCY AWARD WINNERS:
Fatheadz Eyewear Fast Qualifier: Logan Seavey
Simpson Race Products First Heat Winner: Gio Scelzi
Competition Suspension, Inc. Second Heat Winner: Tanner Thorson
AutoMeter Third Heat Winner: Kevin Thomas Jr.
Indy Race Parts Fourth Heat Winner: Carson Macedo
Indy Metal Finishing Semi Winner: Rico Abreu
Saldana Racing Products First Non-Transfer: Maria Cofer
KSE Racing Products/B & W Auto Mart/Irvin King Hard Charger: Kyle Larson (14th to 1st)
Wilwood Brakes 13th Place Finisher: Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
ProSource Hard Work: Shane Golobic