Axsom Falls Just Short At USAC Jefferson County

Emerson Axsom shot from fourth to first on a restart with just five laps remaining, but the 15-year-old couldn’t quite hold off Tyler Courtney on the way to earning a second-place finish as the top finishing Toyota in the USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget Championship’s Midwest Midget Championship at Jefferson County Speedway, Saturday.

The second-place showing marks the first USAC podium finish for the Petry Motorsports Toyota driver. The Franklin, Ind.-native, also earned the USAC Hard Charger Award after starting the race in ninth.

Starting from the pole, Courtney took the lead right from the start with Buddy Kofoid falling in right behind as the two would dominate for much of the night. After a race full of caution flags on Friday, Saturday’s feature would go green for the first 35 laps. As the top two checked out, Axsom maneuvered his way through the field, climbing up into the top five by lap eight and then taking over third place on lap 10. 

Just past the midway point of the race, series point leader Chris Windom would get past Axsom for third on lap 24, as Kofoid began to close on Courtney. By lap 29, Kofoid was all over Courtney as the two maneuvered through heavy traffic, cutting the lead down to a tenth of second, but Courtney was able to hold on.

Finally, a caution flag would fly on lap 36, setting up a five-lap dash to the finish.

On the restart, Axsom mastered the lower line and vaulted from fourth to first.  He would hold the lead through laps 36 and 37, but Courtney would come back to lead 38. The two would come to the stand virtually side-by-side with Courtney leading by inches as they took the white flag. The battle continued through turn one before Courtney got a big run coming out of turn two to take the lead. Axsom made one last run on the low side through three and four, but Courtney would take the win.

“I can’t thank Scott Petry enough, and really everyone who helps support this program – Toyota, Mobil 1 and, of course, my mom and dad,” said Axsom afterward. “I saw everyone on the top, and I knew I wasn’t losing ground down low, so I just tightened it up and went for it on the restart. It was disappointing, but I’m still really happy about finishing second.”

Windom would finish fourth, followed by Kofoid and Daison Pursley as Toyota-powered drivers captured four of the top six spots. In addition, Cannon McIntosh would place eighth and Tanner Carrick brought it home in tenth.

The USAC National Midget Championship heads to Caney Valley Speedway in Kansas for night three of the Midwest Midget Championship Sunday.