Buddy Kofoid was able to dive underneath teammate Kaylee Bryson on lap 19 of 30 and then proceeded to drive away from the field to win the USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget Series’ James Dean Classic feature at Gas City I-69 Speedway. Fellow Keith Kunz Motorsports (KKM) drivers Bryson and Brenham Crouch would finish second and third, respectively, to give the KKM Toyota drivers a podium sweep on Thursday night.
Tonight’s victory marks Keith Kunz’ 133rd in USAC National Midget competition tying Steve Lewis for number one on the all-time USAC National Midget entrant win list. Kunz has earned 112 of those wins since joining forces with Toyota in 2010. Coincidentally, Lewis’ Nine Racing team won Toyota’s first-ever USAC event with Dave Steele at the 2006 Copper World Classic.
For much of the night, it appeared Bryson was on the way to becoming the first woman to win a USAC national feature event after she went straight to the lead from the outside of the front row with Crouch running second.
While Bryson paced the field, Kofoid was quickly moving up from the eighth starting position. He moved into the top five on the opening lead and into fourth on lap two, then into the third spot on lap four. The reigning USAC national champion then battled with Crouch for the runner-up for the next five laps before working his way into second on lap nine.
While Kofoid would contend for the lead, Bryson was up for the challenge, holding down the top spot past the midway point of the race. On lap 18, Kofoid would dive low into one, pushing past Bryson into the lead, only to see her recover and retake the lead coming out of turn two. Kofoid would make a similar run one lap later and this time was able to hold the lead coming out of two. Bryson would make a run back at him through turn three and into four, but Kofoid was able to hold her off.
From that point on, Kofoid proceeded to run away from the field, opening up a 4.5-second lead with five laps remaining and went on to earn his tenth USAC national feature win of the season and his fourth in the last five races. Bryson led a career-high 18 laps in earning her USAC career-best finish. Following Crouch was Chance Crum in fourth, Jacob Denney in fifth and Cannon McIntosh in seven. After problems in qualifying, McIntosh started the feature from the back of the 23-car field and passed 16 cars on the night.
The USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget Series heads directly to Eldora Speedway tomorrow night for the first of two races in two nights culminating with the Four Crown Nationals on Saturday.
Buddy Kofoid, Keith Kunz Motorsports Toyota: “It was an up-and-down night. I qualified not so good, then felt really good in the heat race, then felt good in the feature, and then it didn’t feel so good, but I was able to get back on it again. We finally got the cushion rolling and then we just needed to run mistake-free. It was really fun racing with Brenham and Kaylee, they did a great job. It’s cool to have an all-KKM podium. I love coming to Gas City. I owe this all to my KKM guys, as well as to Keith Kunz and Pete Willoughby, along with Mobil 1 and Toyota for everything they do to give us great cars to compete like this. (On tying the record for Keith Kunz) I came into this weekend hoping to make it closer and, if possible, break Steve Lewis’ record. It’s fun to be a part of it and have something else to chase other than getting double-digit wins and another championship. It would be really special to be the one to do that for Keith.”
Kaylee Bryson, Keith Kunz Motorsports Toyota: “He (Kofoid) just had more speed than me going into that corner. We led a lot of laps which was cool I have to thank all the fans for coming out. My team put a really good car underneath me and I really want to win. We led a lot of laps and that was good and, hopefully, we can take that momentum to Eldora and get a win there.”