Just like clockwork.
For the past two years, Buddy Kofoid has made an annual imperative statement during the November Classic at California’s Bakersfield Speedway.
In 2020, his pursuit required some late-race heroics and, in 2021, he made his way up front by the midway point.
This coming Tuesday night, November 15, the Penngrove, Calif. native looks to achieve a feat that hasn’t been accomplished in more than a half-century – winning three USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship races in a row at Bako.
Billy Vukovich did the deed at Bakersfield between 1966-1967 as he picked up three-straight at the facility. Fifty-five years later, Kofoid will vie to become the next as he also looks to lock up a second consecutive USAC National Midget driving title, a race in which he currently leads the standings by 194.
Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports is the winningest team at the 1/3-mile dirt oval in USAC National Midget competition. Each time, its’ been the No. 67 that’s represented the team in victory lane dating back to 2000 with Jay Drake, 2018 with Logan Seavey and in each of the past two seasons with Kofoid.
WINNING THEIR WAY DOWN IN BAKERSFIELD
Logan Seavey (Sutter, Calif.) is one of two past November Classic winners slated to compete in Tuesday’s event along with Buddy Kofoid.
Seavey captured the 2018 Bakersfield round in grand style by utilizing the high line to pass for the victory coming out of the fourth turn on the 30th and final lap, which also locked up the series title for him in one fell swoop. Seavey garnered a 10th place result at Bakersfield in 2021 and will make his debut with Abacus Racing who’ll field two cars for he and Daniel Whitley (Ferndale, Calif.).
Michael Pickens (Auckland, N.Z.) returns to Bakersfield for the first time since 2019 where he led 10 laps and finished as the runner-up in the feature. He’ll be in the seat of one of three Dave Mac Dalby Motorsports entries along with Cannon McIntosh (Bixby, Okla.), who collected a 5th at Bakersfield in 2021 along with a fast qualifier award as well as an 8th place finish in 2020. Austin Barnhill (Wilmington, N.C.) will attempt to qualify for his first Bakersfield feature lineup.
Australia and the United States have teamed up to field two entries throughout the November USAC National Midget swing for World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car winners Carson Macedo (Lemoore, Calif.) and Spencer Bayston (Lebanon, Ind.). Macedo, the 2016 USAC National Midget Rookie of the Year and that year’s USAC Midwest Regional Midget champ, finished 10th with the USAC Midgets at Bakersfield in 2020. Bayston, the 2017 USAC National Midget champion, has scored three top-five finishes at Bako with a 2nd in 2017, a 4th in 2018 and a 5th in 2020.
Two-time USAC National Midget feature winner Jason McDougal (Broken Arrow, Okla.) returns to the lineup at Bakersfield behind the wheel of the Six8 Motorsports No. 68, which won five-straight USAC Western States Midget entrant titles between 2013-17 along with six features at Bakersfield. McDougal’s Bakersfield experience includes finishes of 9th in 2018 and 6th in 2019.
The Tom Malloy team will prepare two cars for battle with drivers Emerson Axsom and Jacob Denney. The 2022 USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship Rookie of the Year, Emerson Axsom (Franklin, Ind.), led a race-high 17 laps during the 2021 Bakersfield race en route to a 2nd place result. Denney, a 2022 Indiana Midget Week winner at Lincoln Park Speedway, will make his Bakersfield debut.
Kevin Thomas Jr. (Cullman, Ala.) will make his first USAC National Midget appearance since February. For the month of November, you’ll find KTJ in Dean Alexander’s No. 5T as a teammate to Ben Worth (Coalinga, Calif.). Thomas finished a best of 9th at Bako in 2021. Worth, meanwhile, notched his first career USAC Western States Midget win in April of 2019 at Bakersfield, leading the final nine laps en route to victory.
Alex Bright (Collegeville, Pa.) will make the cross country trip to compete at Bakersfield for the first time. The 2021 USAC East Coast Sprint Car champion, 2018 USAC Eastern Midget titlist and past Chili Bowl prelim night winner, will compete for Reinbold-Underwood Motorsports alongside third-year series driver Hayden Reinbold (Gilbert, Ariz.).
BAKO FRONT RUNNERS
Newly crowned USAC National Sprint Car champion Justin Grant (Ione, Calif.) earned his best Bakersfield result in USAC National Midget competition with a 3rd in 2021 and a 5th in 2017. His RMS Racing teammate, Thomas Meseraull (San Jose, Calif.), was a top-10 runner with the series at Bakersfield all the way back in 2000, finishing 7th. In 2019, T-Mez ripped through the pack from his 20th starting position to finish 8th, which earned him hard charger honors.
This year’s USAC Western States Midget champion Michael Faccinto (Hanford, Calif.) has twice been a winner with the regional series at Bakersfield in 2016 and 2018. The now two-time USAC WSM king (2018 & 2022) led the first six laps of the November Classic and finished 9th.
Chase Johnson (Penngrove, Calif.) finished 4th in the November Classic of 2020 and went undefeated in three different USAC series at Bakersfield in 2021, first with the USAC Western States Midgets, then again with the USAC CRA Sprint Cars using a last lap pass for the win after starting 16th and, finally, with the West Coast Sprint Cars after charging all the way from 14th.
Bryant Wiedeman (Colby, Kan.) has had a fantastic season in USAC National Midget racing as he hopes to spark a first career series victory at Bakersfield following an 8th in 2021. Wildly enough, Steve Paden (Downey, Calif.) made his most recent USAC National Midget start at Bakersfield before Wiedeman was born. The 2003 USAC Western States titlist tallied an 8th at Bakersfield in 2000 and a 10th in 1999.
KUNZ/CURB-AGAJANIAN GOES UP TO 11
Among the returnees to the field from previous Bakersfield lineups include Lubbock, Texas’ Brenham Crouch (13th in 2021), Muskogee, Oklahoma’s Kaylee Bryson (14th in 2021), Oklahoma City, Oklahoma’s Ryan Timms (15th in 2021), Bixby, Oklahoma’s Taylor Reimer (17th in 2021) and Locust Grove, Oklahoma’s Daison Pursley (19th in 2019).
Crouch, Bryson, Reimer, and two-time series winners Pursley and Timms are among an astonishing 11-car lineup for the team, which also consists of those four plus Kofoid, Wiedeman and series Rookies Dominic Gorden (Clovis, Calif.), Gavin Miller (Allentown, Pa.), Mariah Ede (Fresno, Calif.) and Cade Lewis who hails from Bakersfield, Calif.
BACK TO BAKO SUCCESS
Mitchel Moles, Chase Johnson and Brody Fuson have all been victorious in their careers at Bakersfield.
Moles (Raisin City, Calif.) is the top Rookie on the 2022 USAC National Midget trail, having won three times as of this writing. In USAC Western States Midget competition, he dominated Bakersfield this past May by sweeping the entire night as the fastest qualifier, heat race winner and feature victor.
Brody Fuson (Bakersfield, Calif.) has finished as the USAC Western States Midget runner-up in each of the past two years. He was the fastest qualifier with the USAC West Coast Sprint Cars at Bakersfield in September of 2021, then followed up with a feature win in September of 2022.
The 2021 USAC Western States Midget champ, Blake Bower (Brentwood, Calif.), finished 8th with the Regional series at Bakersfield in 2021. He too eyes a first USAC National Midget feature start this time around.
FRESH AT BAKERSFIELD
First-time Bakersfield USAC National Midget starters are all throughout the field, including recent Western World Champion Jake Swanson (Anaheim, Calif.) in one of two Josh Ford Motorsports machines alongside Chase Johnson.
Chance Crum (Snohomish, Wash.) has been both a fast qualifier and a podium finisher with the USAC National Midgets this season. He shoots for his first November Classic feature start coming up.
Jake Andreotti (Castro Valley, Calif.) has been a winner with the USAC Western States Midgets this season. He’ll be joined in the field by Nathan Byrd (Goodyear, Ariz.) who will make his USAC National Midget debut at Bakersfield and has finished inside the top-five with the USAC Silver Crown series this season – on pavement.
The driver lineup of 40-plus drivers is a worldwide bunch with Auckland, New Zealand’s Travis Buckley making the call for Bakersfield along with fellow first-time November Classic starting hopefuls Jim Vanzant (Prescott, Ariz.), Jake Hodges (Camarillo, Calif.), Zach Telford (Middleton, Idaho) and Joey Bishop (Camarillo, Calif.), a sixth place finisher in this year’s USAC West Coast Sprint Car point standings.
USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midgets and California’s Bakersfield Speedway have a history that dates back six decades. Davey Moses won the first trip by the USAC National Midgets in the summer of 1959. Over that period, 23 series races have been held at the lightning-quick 1/3-mile that has been both paved and dirt throughout its history.
Jay Drake and Billy Vukovich are the winningest USAC National Midget drivers at Bakersfield with three victories apiece.
Tuesday at Bakersfield, the USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midgets will be joined by the California Lightning Sprints.
The pits open at 2pm Pacific with the grandstands opening at 5pm, the drivers meeting at 5pm and cars on track at 5:30pm.
Adult general admission tickets are $20. Kids 6-12 general admission tickets are $10. Kids 5 and under general admission tickets are free. Senior and military 65+ (ID required) general admission tickets are $18.
The NOS Energy Drink November Classic from Bakersfield will be streamed live on FloRacing at https://flosports.link/3AMU46z