Tanner Thorson worked a treacherous cushion to perfection to win in his unique four coil and two bar car as other contenders clash on track.
Red Dirt Raceway played host to the USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget Series’ final round of the Midwest Midget Championship. 31 cars signed into the quarter mile clay oval in Meeker Oklahoma.
Current National Midget Champion Tyler Courtney set a new track record in a time of 13.108 seconds. The highlight of qualifying however was Kyle Wilson walking away from a vicious roll as the Oklahoma native tumbled in turns 3 and 4 crossing over the track, the wall, across the grass finally coming to rest in some light scrub several yards away from the track.
Heat Races were conducted over 8-Laps with the top 4 finishers transferring directly to the feature with the rest due to run a 12-Lap Semi Main. Heat winners were Jerry Coons Jnr. in the Essential Motorsports #85, Tyler Thomas in the BT Machine #91BT, Sam Johnson in his #72 Spike-Stanton SR-11 and Canon McIntosh in the Keith Kunz #71k.
The 14-Cars of the Semi-Feature were vying for the 6 remaining starting spots in the Feature. Andrew Layser, Emerson Axsom, Current USAC Western States Midget Champion Robert Dalby, Steven Shebester, former USAC Western States Midget Champion Shannon McQueen and Chase Morton all gained entry.
Former series Champion Thorson paced the field for the 30-Lap Feature with Ethan Mitchell to his outside followed by Chris Windom and McIntosh in row two. Michael ‘Buddy’ Kofoid and Courtney starting in the third row with Johnson and Coons Jnr. in row four.
As the green flag dropped Thorson took to the point with Windom close behind as Kaylee Bryson, after a fine drive the previous event finishing third, ended her night tumbling over the banking bringing out the red flag.
At the restart with 28 of 30 laps remaining the single file line streaked down the front straight-away. Thorson absorbed a Windom slide job and retook the position. While this was happening McIntosh worked the pole line to pass the pair and gain the lead. This was short lived with Thorson’s using the long distance cushion to keep his momentum and again resume front of field status.
Courtney then joined Windom and McIntosh in the fight for 2nd as Thorson extended to a two second advantage after ten laps were complete. McIntosh eventually drifting back from the battle for 2nd and into the sights of team mate Kofoid who passed and McIntosh the caught the Windom and Courtney.
The trio found themselves 3-wide on the back straight with Kofoid hitting the cushion, unsettling the car and slowing him just as Windom threw a short slider and collected the nose of Kofoid. Having no chance to avoid McIntosh then piled in. All cars driving away with McIntosh having a flat left front.
This was all to Courtney’s advantage as he turned his car beneath the melee and into second. Coons Jnr. and Axsom getting by the incident to run third and fourth. The real beneficiary of this was Thorson who was now 5.5 seconds ahead of Courtney with 9 laps remaining.
Tanner Carrick bought out the caution bunching the field up for a 3-Lap shoot-out however two successive yellow flags gave Courtney multiple opportunities to challenge Thorson who committed to the turn one and two high-line with Courtney rolling around the bottom ultimately unable to reel in winner Thorson. Coons Jnr.’s patients on the bottom paying off for a third place finish.
Kofoid, Windom, Axsom, McIntosh, Jonathan Beason from grid 18 to 8th, Thomas and Dalby rounding out the top ten.
“We’re trying a different package with four coils compared to the traditional two coils with two bars in the back. I tried it for the heat race tonight and I knew why I went to four coils” Said Thorson of his keys to victory.
Windom now holds a 108 point series lead over Courtney with Kofoid a further 8 points behind and Thorson 13 points behind currently fourth. The series next competing at Grandview Speedway in Pennsylvania on 4th August.
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