Toyota drivers Buddy Kofoid and Cannon McIntosh traded the lead back-and-forth over the final 10 laps before Kofoid finally took the lead for good on lap 38 of 39 on the way to winning the USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget Series’ DrivenToSaveLives BC39 at the Dirt Track at IMS, Thursday, to take home the $15,000 first prize.
The victory is Kofoid’s eighth in USAC competition this season and his 36th overall national midget feature win, moving him past Kyle Larson for second all-time among Toyota-powered midget drivers. Kofoid has won 10 or more features in each of his three full seasons in midget car racing.
McIntosh started the race from the pole position, but it was Mitchel Moles who would take the early lead as McIntosh slipped back to third through the first eight laps before moving up to second on lap nine. One lap later, McIntosh would then move past Moles for the lead, only to see the caution flag wave and reverting the field back to the standings of the previous lap. On the restart, McIntosh would close on Moles quickly, passing him for the lead on lap 11, only to see the yellow flag wave once again, forcing him to give up the lead.
The third time proved to be the charm for McIntosh as he would pass Moles on the outside coming out of turn four to take over the top spot on lap 13. He quickly began to pull away from the field. Moles followed behind, with Ethan Mitchel running third, Zach Daum in fourth and Kofoid having climbed up to fifth.
By lap 21, McIntosh had opened up close to a two-second lead before another caution came out to bunch up the field. On the restart, McIntosh once again stretched out his lead to 1.4 seconds by lap 26, when, yet again, the yellow flag waved. Behind him, Kofoid had mastered the top and moved up to second. After the yellow, McIntosh pulled out a .81-second lead over Kofoid when Moles would flip while running third bringing out a red flag on lap 29.
That would set up the epic late race battle over the final 11 laps. McIntosh would continue to hold down the top spot on lap 29 and 30 as the two would throw non-stop sliders at one another, but Kofoid would lead the field to the flag on lap 31. The battle continued on with McIntosh officially retaking the lead on laps 33 and 34, before Kofoid would retake the lead on lap 35 as the slider-fest continued.
A final yellow would bunch the field once more heading into the final three laps. Kofoid brought the field to the green, but McIntosh would slide him for the lead in turn three, only to have Kofoid cross back over for the point position. Finally, on lap 38, Kofoid would pull out a slight cushion and be able to maintain it over the last two laps to take home the victory. McIntosh would finish second, followed by teammates Thomas Meseraull and Justin Grant in third and fourth, with Larson coming home in fifth.
The USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget Series returns to the track a month from today at Angell Park Speedway in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin.,
Buddy Kofoid, Keith Kunz Motorsports: “This is the biggest midget win of my career. It was so special, and it hasn’t sunk in yet. I almost gave it away on that last restart. I wanted to kiss the bricks this weekend. I just started ripping the fence and if I put it upside down, then I put it upside down. It’s great to see a packed house and to honor Brian Clauson, it’s hard to find words. I owe it all to these Keith Kunz Motorsports guys. I couldn’t do this without Keith Kunz and Pete Willoughby and we certainly couldn’t do this without Toyota Racing and Mobil 1 on the side of this car. Hats off to Cannon. It was so fun racing with him. It was probably the funnest race I’ve ever been a part of.”
Cannon McIntosh, Dave Mac Dalby Motorsports: “I think Buddy just found something there battling through traffic early, He found something through one and two. I couldn’t get through one and two as well as he could. I found what worked for me early and was able to get enough speed to get to the lead. We were really good on the bottom and if it had stayed down there, I think it probably would have worked out well. We had a great fight there and we put up the best fight we could have. It was fun racing with Buddy. I feel we were able to push each other to the limit without going over the limit. That was a cool battle and I’m glad we were able to put on a show for all these fans in Indianapolis. I’m just thankful for this whole team behind me along with Crescent Tools, Toyota, Mobil 1, Apex. You could feel the intensity. It’s pretty awesome being a part of this event and racing in Brian’s name and doing this for his family. This is something that’s very special to be a part of.”