Cannon McIntosh Returns to Form with Xtreme Outlaw Midgets at Keith Kunz Motorsports

Cannon McIntosh’s climb back to the top of the points standings with the Xtreme Outlaw Midget Series presented by Toyota has not been easy, considering where he was only six months ago.

The 21-year-old from Bixby, OK, watched his championship hopes evaporate in the final race of the season last October, suffering an early DNF while Jade Avedisian completed a comeback of her own to clinch the Series title with Keith Kunz Motorsports (KKM).

Fast forward to March, and McIntosh has reunited with his former team at KKM – where he’d not raced in over three years – and has already been to Victory Lane. His Feature win last Saturday inside the Southern Illinois Center marked his first in 23 starts with the Xtreme Outlaw Series in his first weekend back in national Midget series competition with KKM.

After so much time apart, why was 2024 the year for his return to Midget racing’s most decorated team?

“I needed a change anyway; just a good reset,” McIntosh said. “I feel like this was the place to land. No better place to land when you need a good reset than with the best team.”

McIntosh admits that after such a dominant start to 2023 – winning four of the first seven races which led to leading the points standings for most of the year – the second half of the season fell short of his standards.

Coming into championship weekend in October, he had not won a Feature on tour since May and had only seven top-five finishes in the previous 16 races. Even after climbing into a CB Industries-backed operation for the final weekend of the season, McIntosh’s efforts to untangle his late-season struggles proved fruitless as he dropped back to a fourth-place finish in the Series standings.

“I don’t know what exactly I was struggling with,” McIntosh said. “Obviously, I had made a team transition in the middle of a championship battle. There was just a lot of factors, and it was really, really tough. It definitely made a mental struggle as well, just trying to stay super motivated and trying to keep your confidence up when there was nothing to show for it.

“That was definitely a big battle for a long time, I felt like. But I felt like I never really stopped working, training and doing all the things I could do, and just waiting for the right things to fall into place.”

But that’s all behind him now. McIntosh said KKM co-owners Keith Kunz and Pete Willoughby contacted him before the Chili Bowl Nationals in January and expressed their desire to have him return to the team for the marquee event and evaluate their options for regular season racing soon after.

They set up an agreement to race together in 2024 with numerous Xtreme and USAC events on the schedule, and McIntosh has never been more ready to take on the national scene.

“With the reset and going to Keith, I really had something to motivate me,” McIntosh said. “I know in the back of my head I have a whole team depending on me to go perform. So, when you have that, you want to push yourself whether it’s in the gym, whether it’s what you eat, what you watch… there’s plenty of factors.”

A fifth-place run on opening night in Du Quoin followed by a win the next night is a strong start for he and the team. But successful operations revolve around more than just results, and McIntosh has felt the communication, flow and comradery around the KKM pit already.

“Everyone showed up, worked hard and I feel like the chemistry was good all around,” McIntosh said. “From Beau [Binder] to Keith, to the tire guys, car chiefs, crew chiefs – it was good.”

To supplement his education as a driver, McIntosh has taken up crew chief and car ownership duties in 2024 as well with his all-new Cannon McIntosh Driver Development program. He and Robert Dalby – former crew chief at Dave Mac-Dalby Motorsports – have reunited to take-in and coach up-and-coming racers via Millbridge Speedway’s weekly Micro Sprint events with equipment of their own.

McIntosh already has multiple drivers lined-up to take seat time in his program, keeping him occupied with racing seven days a week – in the shop or at the track.

“It really can help develop your people skills too,” McIntosh said. “You work on communication skills with the driver; you can kinda pick up things too as the night goes on in the race night with the new driver and learn new things in yourself.”

McIntosh and KKM are back in action with the Xtreme Outlaw Midgets in two weeks for a doubleheader in Missouri – Friday, April 5, at US 36 Raceway and Saturday, April 6, at Sweet Springs Motorsports Complex.

Tickets for both events are on sale now at XtremeOutlawSeries.com and will also be available at the gate on race day. If you can’t be there to watch in person, stream every lap live on DIRTVision.

DIRTcar Series PR