Thomas ‘T-MEZ’ Meseraull thrilled the crowd with a last lap pass in the opening round of USAC Indiana Midget Week at Paragon Speedway with the New Zealanders having mixed results.
Thirty five cars signed into the rain soaked pits. A small infield lake formed after rain the night before gave reason for the heavy clay quarter miles rough surface.
The soft crumbling track clumped together enough to form a tall sticky cushion in turn 4 during qualifying with current USAC National Champion Chris Windom fast time, 0.148 seconds ahead of Oklahoma’s Ryan Timms. Meseraull qualified 5th.
New Zealand National Midget Champion Hayden Williams was 10th fastest with fellow Aucklanders Max Guilford and Travis Buckley 33rd and 34th. Buckley stopping in his first qualifying attempt and given a single lap as final qualifier. Guilford with motor issues.
The track perpetration continued to improve conditions with the field split into 4 heat races. Wins went to Bryant Wiedeman, Chase Crum, Jason McDougal and Keith Kunz Motorsport driver Daison Pursley. Wiedeman then McDougal both lowering the 8-Lap track record.
Guilford started at the rear of his heat and was unable to advance his position. Buckley and Williams were both in heat 2 with Williams transferring directly to the Feature race with a 3rd place finish while Buckley started 9th and finished 7th. Meseraulls’ 6th place finish also meant a Simi-Main start for the eventual winner.
This saw both Guilford and Buckley occupy the 9th row of the Semi-Feature. With only the top 6 making the Feature the two New Zealand drivers respective 15th and 16th place finishes ended their night, Guilford unable to find his problem with the motor. Brenham Crouch won the 12-Lap event with Meseraull 2nd, Son of West Coast racer Ronnie Day; Corey Day 3rd, Emerson Axsom 4th, Kevin Thomas Jr. 5th and Sam Johnson 6th also transferring.
The 30-Lap Starting line-up had Justin Grant and Cannon McIntosh on the front row with former New Zealand Sprintcar champ Buddy Kofoid and Logan Seavey in a NZ built King Chassis in the second row Timms and Pursley rounding out the first three rows. Lone Kiwi Williams on grid 14 behind Californian born Indiana resident Meseraull.
At the drop of the green Grant took the lead as Kofoid got above the cushion in turn 2 and lost several spots. On the following lap Grant ended up above the turn 2 cushion and gave up the lead to McIntosh. With a third of the race complete the cushion in turns 3 and 4 grew with cars using both the high and low lines. Meseraull passed Seavey for 3rd and track down RMS Motorsport teammate Grant in second.
A lap 17 stoppage for Crouch bunched the field up for the single file restart. Williams was in 11th as McIntosh took the green and a lead over Grant who pushed his way up the track in slow motion with 8 laps remaining, allowing T-Mez to get by.
With 5 to go Meseraull caught McIntosh and showed more than his nose as McIntosh kept a slim lead for the next few laps with Meseraull applying more pressure and a distinct advantage in turns one and two.
in the final turns of the last lap McIntosh’s car slid across the middle and up the track as Meseraull’s car bit into the cushion and below McIntosh for the win.
Grant was 3rd with Kofoid and Seavey in the top five. McDougal, Pursley, Axsom, Windom and Williams in the top 10.
Playing to the crowd in his post-race interview Meseraull said “I think the pressure got to him there didn’t it?” of McIntosh’s botched last corner.
The field races tomorrow in round 2 at Bloomington Speedway.
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