Century Mark! Pursley Punctuates 100th USAC Midget Start with Belleville Win

Daison Pursley celebrated his 100th career USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship feature start in style during Saturday night’s Huncovsky Classic at the Belleville (Kan.) Short Track.

Pursley (Locust Grove, Okla.) tracked down and passed Ryan Timms with 15 laps remaining to score his first series victory since August of 2021 and his first since a severe spinal cord injury in a USAC Midget event later that same year nearly derailed his career.

Now he’s back in the hunt and back to running up front, setting the stage with a second-place result in Friday’s Belleville opener followed by a long-awaited third career series victory on Saturday at the 1/4-mile dirt oval and his first for the CB Industries team with whom he joined during the offseason.

Starting fourth on the grid for the 40-lapper in his CB Industries/PristineAuction.com – NOS Energy Drink – TRD/Spike/Speedway Toyota, Pursley made it his duty in trying to chase down early leaders Ashton Torgerson and Ryan Timms for much of the first half of the duration.

Torgerson led the opening three laps from the pole position in what was just the third USAC National Midget event he’d ever signed into. However, Torgerson’s Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports teammate, Ryan Timms, had his car wound up on the topside and charged around Torgerson for the lead in turn one on the fourth lap. Pursley, meanwhile, followed suit, and likewise, blazed around the outside of Torgerson in the first turn to slot into second.

Timms continued to hold serve up front, but on lap 11, he nearly saw his lead crumble when he dove low entering turn one to place Jeff Stasa a lap down. As he slid up, Timms smacked the turn two curb with his right rear tire and briefly became airborne. Nonetheless, Timms hung on to the lead and fended off Pursley for the time being.

“I knew the top was going to be pretty good there early on with the rework that they did,” Pursley explained. “I thought I got ahead of Ryan there and I could kind of set my own pace. Then I tried the bottom in three and four and allowed him to slide me into one. I just tucked in behind him and let him set the pace and let the track come to us.”

The night’s only red flag was displayed when 14th running Jake Bubak (Arvada, Colo) and another driver touched wheels on the back straightaway on lap 14. Bubak got the worst end of the ordeal, digging in with the left side wheels, which sent him barrel rolling multiple times before coming to a rest on his four wheels. Bubak walked away but was done for the evening.

Timms continued to lead Pursley by a pair of car lengths as both ripped the top while gaining on lapped traffic. Yet, on lap 26, Pursley made his winning move by drifting across the nose of Timms in turn three, then gliding up to turn four where he hit the cushion, launched off and propelled forward to beat Timms back to the line by a mere single car length.

“I knew I had a really good car, so I let it come to me as the race played out,” Pursley revealed. “It was a long 40 laps and I felt like the car was getting better and better the longer we went. It’s pretty cool to have a second and a first to start out the year and to click off that first win since 2021 is really neat.”

USAC’s leading National Midget Rookie, Kale Drake, shot into second past Timms on the 29th lap and pulled himself into contention for the lead behind Pursley. By this point, with just a tick more than 10 laps remaining, the race gradually migrated down toward the bottom for most combatants. While Pursley stuck to his guns on the low line, Drake was searching to find something/anything in the track surface from the middle to the top in between turns three and four. But all it ultimately did was open the door for Timms to break on through to the other side and occupy the second spot.

From there, Pursley went unfettered and unphased down the stretch to prevail for his third career USAC National Midget main event win by a 2.387 second margin an all-Oklahoma top-four consisting of Pursley, Ryan Timms, Kale Drake and Friday night winner Cannon McIntosh. Zach Daum (Pocahontas, Ill.), meanwhile, rounded out the top-five.

Ryan Timms (Oklahoma City, Okla.) successfully recovered from Friday’s mishap which dropped him back to 15th place at the finish line. But now the inaugural Belleville Short Track USAC Midget winner from 2023 was back in the groove in race two with a steady runner-up result in his Keith Kunz-Curb-Agajanian Motorsports/JBL Audio – IWX – Mobil 1/LynK/Speedway Toyota.

Series newcomer Kale Drake (Collinsville, Okla.) could go anywhere he pleased throughout the feature, and in turn, he recorded his best career USAC result of third after starting 12th aboard the Keith Kunz-Curb-Agajanian Motorsports/Eibach Springs – PageKC.com/LynK/Speedway Toyota.

Ethan Mitchell (Mooresville, N.C.) stopped the clock on Saturday night at Belleville with his fifth career Honest Abe Roofing Fast Qualifying time. He’s now been a fast timer in five of the last six USAC National Midget seasons.