Daison Pursley took the lead on lap 22 of 30 and went on to earn his first career national midget feature win in Saturday’s POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget League event at I-44 Riverside Speedway as Toyota drivers captured the top-four finishing positions.
The victory came one night after the 15-year-old led the first 27 laps only to get passed by Keith Kunz Motorsports (KKM) teammate Cannon McIntosh in a runner-up finish.
Dave Mac Motorsports driver Noah Gass started from the pole and led the opening lap before giving way to KKM’s Jesse Love, with Pursley jumping up to fifth on the opening lap from his eighth starting position. He continued to move up through the field and by lap seven he was able to overtake Gass for second.
Love, the current ARCA Menards Series West point leader, continued to pace the field through the midway point, with teammates Pursley and Buddy Kofoid running second and third. Behind them Kyle Jones was fourth, Gass fifth, Tyler Thomas was sixth and McIntosh had climbed up to seventh from the 19th starting position as the race ran under green flag conditions throughout.
As the leaders fought through heavy traffic, Pursley had closed to within .1 second of Love on lap 21 and then made his move on lap 22 where he went low down the front straight, then throwing a slide job through turns one and two to take the lead. Love fell to second, followed by Kofoid and McIntosh as KKM drivers ran first through fourth.
Kofoid passed Love for second on lap 24 and then began to close in on Pursley as they continued to navigate through lapped cars. He made a number of runs at Pursley over the final six laps, but Pursley was able to hold him off for the win with a margin of victory of .419 seconds.
“I haven’t won in a long time,” said the Locust Grove, Oklahoma native. “It feels amazing. They gave me a great car tonight. The non-stop racing was tough, but that’s why we are here. It’s really special to do this with KKM and Toyota. The race fell in my favor early. Then we got into lapped traffic and I was able to capitalize.”
Kofoid, a seven-time POWRi winner, finished second, followed by Love, McIntosh and Jones. With Gass placing sixth, Joe B. Miller seventh and Thomas eighth, Toyota-powered drivers would capture seven of the top-eight finishing positions.
“I think we’ve found some of our speed back,” said Kofoid afterward. “Daison did a really good job and I’m really proud of him. I told him a few weeks ago that the first one was the hardest, then it would get easier. Toyota and Mobil 1 have given me a great opportunity and everyone at Keith Kunz Motorsports has done a great job in giving me a great car all year.”
Saturday night’s feature was the final race of the 2020 POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget League season, with six different Toyota drivers combining to win 15 events this year.