Emerson Axsom took the lead at the green and then proceeded to go wire-to-wire in leading all 30 laps for his second victory of the season on the opening night of the POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget League’s Illinois SpeedWeek at Charleston Speedway.
With the victory, the 16-year-old Axsom extends his series point lead to 140 points over second-place Bryant Wiedeman. Tonight’s national midget feature win is the 27th for a Toyota-powered driver in 2021.
Cannon McIntosh and Axsom started on the front row with Axsom going straight to the lead on the opening lap while McIntosh would run second. Daison Pursley was third with Kaylee Bryson and Ryan Timms rounding out the top five.
While battles waged for positions fourth through sixth, the top three would stay intact for the first half of the race with McIntosh starting to close in on Axsom as they hit lapped traffic. Unfortunately, McIntosh’s hopes for a victory would suffer a major blow after getting a flat right rear tire on lap 18, which would send him to the back of the pack.
On the restart, Axsom would lead Pursley, Timms, Brent Crews, Wiedeman, Cade Lewis, Taylor Reimer and a hard-charging Buddy Kofoid, who started the race 21st after getting upside down in his heat race.
By lap 23, Axsom had opened up a 1.3-second lead over Pursley, but that would be wiped out when the caution waved on lap 26 to set up a five-lap dash to the finish. On the restart, Pursley would make a big run at Axsom, passing him through turn two and then going high to hold the lead coming out of four to the flag-stand only to see another caution, reverting the field back to their positions on the previous lap.
On the ensuing restart, Axsom would hold Pursley off and then proceed to drive away to the victory, leading all 30 laps. Pursley would finish second, while Kofoid placed third as Toyota-powered drivers swept the victory podium.
McIntosh would recover from his flat tire to take fourth, followed by Crews, Wiedeman, Reimer, Lewis and Gavin Boschele.
POWRi’s Illinois Speedweek heads to Lincoln Speedway for night two of the five-race event on Thursday night.
Emerson Axsom, Petry Motorsports: “Daison was behind me and he’s been running really well. I knew he’d run hard, but I also knew he’d run me clean. Last week I felt we were pretty close in USAC, so I knew we’d have a ton of momentum coming into the night. Now we need to carry it on through the rest of the season.”
Daison Pursley, Keith Kunz Motorsports: “We just flat-out got outran. To compete for a win, although I didn’t think the car was very good and I didn’t make the right moves, and to finish second is nothing to hang your head about. We’ve got a lot of racing left this week so we’re going to get ready for that.”