Onward to Merced!
The USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship’s tour of California continues with two dates on back-to-back nights at Merced Speedway on Tuesday-Wednesday, November 22-23.
An expected field of 40-plus entries and all four past USAC National Midget winners at Merced will check in for both nights in pursuit of victory: Buddy Kofoid, Justin Grant, Tanner Thorson and Thomas Meseraull.
ALL FOUR PAST WINNERS
Buddy Kofoid (Penngrove, Calif.) enters as the most recent Merced winner last November where he practically cemented his title aspirations. This Tuesday night, he could do the much the same. The magic number is 29. By gaining 29 more points, Kofoid will clinch the 2022 USAC National Midget title.
Riding into Merced on a two-race winning streak after last weekend’s $32,000 Hangtown 100 win at Placerville (Calif.) Speedway, Kofoid has finished 2nd, 3rd and 1st in his last three Merced starts. To boot, he’s also the one-lap track record holder in a midget at Merced with a time of 11.635 seconds.
RMS Racing cars have won the opening night at Merced in two consecutive seasons. Meseraull (San Jose, Calif.) made his first ever visit to the quarter-mile dirt oval a victorious performance in 2020. Grant (Ione, Calif.) captured a non-stop, green-to-checkered feature at Merced in 2021, timing in with a 30-lap effort at a blazing 6:14.35. Grant also notched a 3rd on the second night a year ago.
Tanner Thorson (Minden, Nev.) rotated turns with two other drivers during the final six laps to capture the second night victory in 2020 at Merced. He’s the only driver to finish all four USAC National Midget features at Merced inside the top-10 with a 5th in the 2020 opener followed by a 2nd and 9th in 2021.
A TRACK RECORD FOR YOU, A TRACK RECORD FOR ALL
Each visit by the USAC National Midgets to Merced has produced a new one-lap track record. Spencer Bayston (Lebanon, Ind.) set quick time on the initial visit to the speedway in 2020. The 2017 USAC National Midget champ has finished solidly too, capturing an 8th and 5th in two appearances back in 2020.
Carson Macedo (Lemoore, Calif.) lowered the Merced track record on the opening night of 2021, eclipsing the mark set by Kyle Larson on night two in 2020. The 2016 USAC National Midget Rookie was a top-10 finisher on both nights in 2020 with a 4th and 7th and garnered a 9th on night one in 2021. His track record was short-lived, however, and was broken the following evening by Kofoid, the current holder.
UPPING THE ANTE IN MERCED
Tanner Carrick (Lincoln, Calif.) won his first USAC National Midget feature in three seasons a week ago at Placerville, providing Keith Kunz his record-breaking 134th victory as an entrant in USAC National Midget competition. Carrick led eight laps and finished as the runner-up in the series debut at Merced in 2020.
Cannon McIntosh (Bixby, Okla.), a three-time USAC National Midget feature winner this season, has twice been a runner-up at Merced with a 3rd and a 5th on night one of 2020 and 2021, respectively.
Jade Avedisian (Clovis, Calif.) burst into the consciousness of the USAC National Midget brethren at Merced when she battled tooth-and-nail to a 4th place result on the second of two nights in 2021.
Two-time USAC National Midget feature winner Emerson Axsom (Franklin, Ind.) posted a pair of high-quality results at Merced in 2021 with a 4th and 6th in his two efforts. He’ll be taking on this week’s two nights with the same Tom Malloy team which won the season closer at Merced in 2020 with driver Tanner Thorson.
Logan Seavey (Sutter, Calif.), the 2018 USAC National Midget champion, earned a best of 5th on night two at Merced in 2021 to go along with a 6th and 8th in 2020 and 2021, respectively speaking.
Additional top-10 runs throughout the field in Merced races’ past include Shane Golobic (Fremont, Calif.) who scored a 6th in both 2020 and 2021 as well as an 8th in 2021. Golobic also reigned triumphant with the USAC Western States Midgets this past April at Merced. Bryant Wiedeman (Colby, Kan.) notched a 7th on night two in 2021. Top 2022 series Rookie Mitchel Moles (Raisin City, Calif.) recorded both of his best runs on night of 2020 (10th) and 2021 (7th).
Oklahomans Jason McDougal (Broken Arrow, Okla.) and Ryan Timms (Oklahoma City, Okla.) rounded out the top-10 on each night of the 2021 event at Merced.
RETURNING TO MERCED, WE SAID
Returning to the Merced lineup for another go are multi-time USAC National Midget feature winners Kevin Thomas Jr. and Daison Pursley. Thomas (Cullman, Ala.) was a 12th place finisher on night two in 2021. Pursley (Locust Grove, Okla.) picked up a 12th on night two in 2020 and led a lap in that year’s opener.
Taylor Reimer (Bixby, Okla.) collected an 11th on night two of 2021. Chance Crum (Snohomish, Wash.), who advanced 21st to 2nd during last Saturday’s Hangtown 100 at Placerville, finished 14th at Merced on night two of 2021. Jake Andreotti (Castro Valley, Calif.) took 15th in 2021 with the National series and was 5th with USAC Western States this past June. Kaylee Bryson (Muskogee, Okla.) scored 16th in 2021 while Brenham Crouch (Lubbock, Texas) notched a 19th in 2021.
Two-time and current USAC Western States Midget champ Michael Faccinto (Hanford, Calif.) ran 2nd in both USAC Western States Midget races this season at Merced and was 22nd with the USAC National Midgets in 2020. Hayden Reinbold (Gilbert, Ariz.) pocketed 24th in 2021.
GATEWAY TO YOSEMITE & TO A FIRST START AT MERCED
First-time Merced-starting hopefuls with the USAC National Midgets include Auckland, New Zealand natives Michael Pickens and Travis Buckley.
One-time USAC National Midget feature winner Jacob Denney (Galloway, Ohio) will make his debut Merced appearance and will be joined by 2021 USAC Western States Midget champion Blake Bower (Brentwood, Calif.) who finished 3rd and 4th in a pair of 2021 USAC WS starts at Merced.
USAC’s East Coast Sprint Car titlist of 2021 and USAC Eastern Midget king of 2018, Alex Bright (Collegeville, Pa.), readies for his first run at Merced as does 2022 BC39 Stoops Pursuit victor Dominic Gorden (Clovis, Calif.).
Rocky Mountain Midget Racing Association’s Blaze Bennett (Parker, Colo.) and Lance Bennett (Aurora, Colo.) will make their first stop on the California swing at Merced.
USAC West Coast Sprint Car feature winner Daniel Whitley (Ferndale, Calif.) will be on hand along with Dylan Bloomfield (Oakley, Calif.) who made a USAC West Coast Sprint Car start at Merced in 2021. Nathan Byrd (Goodyear, Ariz.) will make his Merced debut along with Austin Barnhill (Wilmington, N.C.) and Zach Telford (Middleton, Idaho) who will team with newcomer Teddy Bivert (Payette, Idaho) in a second GR Motorsports machine.
Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports Rookies Mariah Ede and Gavin Miller are on the route to Merced where they both look to make first feature starts at the track. Steve Hix (Ventura, Calif.) and Kyle Beilman (Los Angeles, Calif.) aim to do the same.
Both Tuesday and Wednesday’s events pay $4,000-to-win for the USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship. Winged 360 Sprint Cars are also on the card both nights.
The pits open at 2pm Pacific and grandstands at 5pm with the drivers meeting set for 5pm and cars on track at 5:30pm.
Adult general admission for ages 13 and up is $25. Kids 6-12 general admission is $10. Senior general admission is $20. Military general admission is $20.
Advance Tuesday tickets can be purchased at: https://www.myracepass.com/
Advance Wednesday tickets can be purchased at: https://www.myracepass.com/
Both Merced races this week will be streamed live on FloRacing at https://flosports.link/3AMU46z