It’s only taken Tanner Thorson three race meetings in the New Zealand built King Chassis to find his way to victory lane in the NOS Energy Drink USAC National Midget Series, claiming the Jason Leffler Memorial at Wayne County Speedway in Wayne County, Illinois.
The tight eighth of a mile bullring played host to the7th running of the Jason Leffler Memorial race. The 4 time USAC Midget Champion honoured for his outstanding talent and personality having died from injuries sustained in a June 2013 Sprintcar race.
A field of 36 cars time trailed with a returning Jason McDougal fastest over all on a torsion-bar front Beast/SR-11 MOPAR followed by Kevin Thomas Jnr. also not running for series points and back in the Petry Motorsports #5.
The 10-Lap heat races were won by Kyle Cummins, current series point leader Chris Windom – who’s car failed to fire in hotlaps, team mate to Thorson Chase Johnson, newly crowned USAN National Sprintcar Series Champion Brady Bacon and 2-time winner this season Cannon McIntosh. All winners coming from the front rows.
The small but wide track throwing up race lines from pole to wall with the bottomed starting to look warn yet the top line still considerably the longer way round. The cushion drawing ever closer to the outer wall as the night and track developed.
Finishing positions and passing points accumulated saw the top 6 from each heat race spread across four 12-Lap Qualifiers. Daison Pursley was high point man after starting 6th in heat one and finishing 2nd. Waco, Texas driver Chase Randall, Thomas Jnr., Windom and Cummins also in the top 5.
Currently 2nd in season points Tyler Courtney won the 1st Qualifier with Justin Grant, Logan Seavey and McIntosh also Qualifier winners.
With two rounds of racing complete points were tallied with the top 16 advancing directly to the front of the Feature race and the balance reporting to the 15-Lap Semi-Main where 20 cars were vying for the final 6 starting spots.
Buddy Kofoid won from grid 5 with Cody Brewer, Robert Dalby, Cole Bodine, Sam Johnson and Kaylee Bryson all transferring to the main event.
McIntosh’s heat and qualifier win saw him earn pole with Windom to his outside. Pursley, Thomas Jnr., Randall, Thorson among the front 6 grids of the 40-Lap race.
At the drop of the green McIntosh took an early advantage across the front of Windom in turns 1 and 2. Windom cut back under in his Tucker-Boat Racing Spike-Toyota and into the lead. Cars battling behind the lead pair going 3 and 4 wide at times utilising the entire surface.
Thomas Jnr. made distance from the ensuing pack to be a clear 3rd in the early running with Pursley and Thorson contesting 4th until the caution lights came on for a spun and stationary Bacon. At the restart Kofoid and Chase Johnson came together slowing the race once again.
As the race got back underway Windom led McIntosh around the highline which was starting to lose moisture with every lap. Thorson restarted 4th and set to work on Thomas Jnr. who had no answer for the forward bite of the King Chassis in the slick. Thorson, now 3rd, was over 2 seconds behind the lead pair.
McIntosh was not content with 2nd and threw numerous slide jobs at Windom, holding his own with the Sprintcar and Sliver Crown Champ until getting into the turn 3 wall haemorrhaging time and distance to Windom.
Windom near half a straight away lead started to diminish as he caught the back of the field. Past the half way mark and the top and bottom of the track were both well worn. With the top proving to be slower Thorson worked the bottom of the track to perfection and edged ahead of McIntosh but was still over 2.5 seconds behind the leader.
Windom persisted with the dehydrated cushion as Thorson again rolled around the rubber down, blackened pole line into the lead with 10-Laps remaining. Windom dropped down to the grip after seeing Thorson’s example.
With 4-Laps to go, Previous Leffler winner Tyler Thomas, McDougal and Hayden Reinbold stopped on track brining the field closer together for the single file restart.
With all cars now freight training the inside of the track it was Thorson across the line 1st with Windom 2nd and Thomas Jnr. 3rd. McIntosh and Pursley in the top five. Courtney, Cummins, Randall, Emerson Axsom and Grant finishing in the top ten.
Thorson the 7th different winner of the event in his 5th USAC Midget win of the year.
“All I have to say is: That’s fricken bas ass!” Said Thorson delighted with the win.
“You’re within seconds of wreaking every lap and if you’re not, you’re not driving hard enough”.
USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget Series Points Standings:
The Series next races at Tri-State Speedway in Haubstadt, Indiana on 10th October.
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