Return of the Mac! McIntosh Mans USAC Midget Opener in Belleville

Following a major changeover during the offseason, Cannon McIntosh got back on track in more ways than one during Friday night’s USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship season opener at the Belleville (Kan.) Short Track.

A mere 616 days since his most recent USAC feature victory in September of 2022, McIntosh returned to glory on the 1/4-mile dirt oval, grabbing the lead from his outside front row starting position, then dominating the 30-lap distance from start to finish.

The triumph was McIntosh’s first USAC win for Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports since driving for team full-time in 2020. That year, McIntosh won twice before switching over to the family-owned Dave Mac-Dalby Motorsports team where he raced full-time between the 2021-23 seasons.

His remigration to KKM has already paid dividends, ending his 41-race winless streak in USAC competition and netting him his seventh career series victory, moving him into 97th on the all-time list alongside Tommy Astone, Jack Hewitt, Don Horvath, Page Jones, Kenneth Nichols, Larry Patton, Les Scott, Len Sutton and Johnnie Tolan.

McIntosh’s performance also provided car entrant Mike Curb his 199th USAC national victory, placing him just one shy of becoming the first entrant to reach the 200-win mark.

A solid start was imperative, and McIntosh made it priority number one in his Gear Wrench – TRD – Mobil 1/LynK/Speedway Toyota, although he wasn’t initially able to throw down the gauntlet nor was he able to apply the dagger quite yet as he followed his teammate and pole sitter Gavin Miller for the first three-quarters of a lap. That’s when Miller left the bottom in turn four, thus opening the door for McIntosh to scoot on by on the low line.

“I knew it was going to be important to get a good start, especially with how much work they did to the bottom,” McIntosh explained. “I didn’t know if it would go away much, at least in one and two. I thought that maybe it would go away in three and four, so I just stayed committed down there after Gavin made a mistake there on the first lap. We were able to get by and I tried to minimize mistakes the whole race.”

By the end of the 10th lap, McIntosh’s lead stood at a commanding rate of 1.633 seconds until a pair of subsequent stoppages stifled his groove. First, Hank Davis (15th) teetered over the edge of the turn four cushion and slid to a stop. One lap after the restart, Ryan Timms, the 2023 opening night Belleville Short Track USAC Midget winner, snagged the turns one and two cushion before grinding to a halt on the 12th circuit.

Over the course of the next 10-lap stanza, Daison Pursley slipped by Miller for the second spot while McIntosh was in the midst of reestablishing a full straightaway edge. As he worked through a heavy throng of lapped traffic with five to go, McIntosh tapped the rear bumper of the down-a-lap car driven by Jake Andreotti in turn one. No harm, no foul was the end result as McIntosh carried onward with a 1.3 second lead to his advantage.

Still husting, McIntosh never relented, putting 10 cars in the field at least one lap down in the final running order. Yet, without rearview mirrors and little margin for error, it’s difficult to accurately differentiate between who is who and what is what, so McIntosh didn’t let up.

“I thought I heard someone coming there at the end on the outside in three and four,” McIntosh revealed. “I didn’t know if it was a lapper, but it sounded like somebody was coming, so I was trying to get as many lapped cars as I could there at the end before I was able to bring it home.”

McIntosh ultimately crossed the finish line as a winner 3.19 seconds ahead of Daison Pursley, Gavin Miller, Jerry Coons Jr. and Kyle Jones who finished with a career best USAC result of fifth place.

It was a fine debut for Daison Pursley (Locust Grove, Okla.) as he came home second in his first run with CB Industries in USAC National Midget competition. It’s Pursley’s best series run since May of 2023 when he also finished second in Sweet Springs, Mo. Pursley, wheeling the PristineAuction.com – NOS Energy Drink – TRD/Spike/Speedway Toyota, is the early USAC National Midget point leader by one single point despite not winning the feature.

There’s no inkling of a sophomore slump for Gavin Miller (Allentown, Pa.) after night one of the USAC National Midget season. His performances a year ago rewarded him as USAC’s National Midget Rookie of the Year. Tonight, he collected a solid third place result in his Keith Kunz-Curb-Agajanian Motorsports/Sound Gear – TRD – Mobil 1/LynK/Speedway Toyota.

Meanwhile, defending series champion Logan Seavey (Sutter, Calif.) set a new all-time USAC record after charging his way from the 23rd starting position to finish eighth. The result marked his 23rd consecutive top-10 feature finish with the USAC National Midgets. That broke the record held by Jason Leffler since 1997.

Ashton Torgerson (Glendale, Ariz.) finished 14th in his first career USAC National Midget start. For finishing as the last car on the lead lap in Friday night’s feature race, the Arizonian collected $250 courtesy of Buck Rice from ProSource.

Justin Grant (Ione, Calif.) pulled off a rare feat during Friday’s Honest Abe Roofing Qualifying session.  He became the third driver ever to record a fast qualifying time in back-to-back USAC National Midget season openers. Bobby Grim achieved it in 1965-66 while Kevin Thomas Jr. matched it himself it in 2020-21.

USAC PR