By: Richie Murray – USAC Media
Columbus, Indiana (January 25, 2022)………“What’s better than one? Two of ‘em!”
Buddy Kofoid made his intentions clear as he embarks on defending his USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship throne in 2022 and sets his sights on the season’s 37-race schedule aboard the Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports No. 67.
The Penngrove, Calif. native claimed the series championship in 2021 on the strength of six victories that were punctuated with a memorable evening, standing on the stage to accept his championship reward. It’s a feeling he’s aiming to replicate when the curtain closes on the 2022 campaign.
“I know how special my first one was and it’s kind of hard to beat that feeling,” Kofoid admitted. “But somebody mentioned to me that not too many people have gone back-to-back, and it’s been a long time since it’s happened. I feel like we have a chance to make that happen and we’re in a good position to do that. It would prove how strong we are and that KKM is the top team for a reason. I feel like that would cement myself in the record books of USAC.”
Eleven previous drivers have won the USAC National Midget championship in consecutive years. Three, Shorty Templeman (1956-57-58), Jimmy Davies (1960-61-62) and Jason Leffler (1997-98-99), are the lone individuals to three-peat.
Eight others have accomplished what Kofoid is keen on pulling off – back-to-back titles. Those include Mike McGreevy (1965-66), Mel Kenyon (1967-68), Sleepy Tripp (1975-76), Stevie Reeves (1992-93), Tony Stewart (1994-95), Dave Darland (2001-02), Jerry Coons Jr. (2006-07) and the most recent to do so, Bryan Clauson (2010-11).
With one championship in the book and ambitions of another on the horizon, Kofoid sees little difference in his personal approach entering the season, claiming that since they know they can do it once, they can do it again.
“I don’t want to say winning the championship last year takes the pressure off, that’s because I put pressure on myself, and when I have a goal, I want to do it,” Kofoid explained. “It’s a similar mindset really; do the best we can, win the championship and win some crown jewel races.”
After bagging a few jewels over the past couple of seasons, including the Western World Championships final night feature and the Indiana Midget Week title, there are several items on the checklist Kofoid would like to mark off on his journey this year that just barely slipped through his fingers.
“I’d love to win the 4-Crown Nationals; Turkey Night would be awesome; and Angell Park is a special one,” Kofoid reeled off. “I finished second at every long race last year between 98 and 100 laps, so now, I’d just like to be one spot better at Placerville, Huset’s and Ventura.”
Kofoid’s back, his hunger is strong, and he’s got his right hand man, 2021 USAC National Chief Mechanic of the Year Jarrett Martin, turning the wrenches. A stone cold, solid core is the backbone of the long-running string of success Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports has attained to record an all-time best 11 entrant titles with the series.
“For the whole team and I, we pretty much have the same core group of guys,” Kofoid noted. “We’re going to stick to the same package we’ve used the last couple of years. I’ve got the same crew chief, and I think that’s a great thing for us. We know that it works for us and Keith (Kunz) and (team owner/CEO) Pete (Willoughby) have put their trust and belief in us. We believe it’s the best group of guys for us.”
Kofoid and team began last season in victory lane during the season opener at Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala, Fla. It’s where the series begins in 2022 on February 11-12 at the 3/8-mile D-shaped dirt track and it’s where the hopes, goals and dreams of a season commence, and the beginning of already envisioning where he’ll be standing a little more than 10 months from today.
“My goal is to be the last person on the stage to be announced at the banquet, and we did that last year,” Kofoid points out. “Hopefully, we can just do it again, and I think we can.”