For Pursley, the Red Dirt of Oklahoma is Home

Daison Pursley has a box full of fond memories of Red Dirt Raceway.

 

He grew up racing and winning in the micro sprint division at the Meeker, Okla. dirt oval, located just a tick under two hours from his native Locust Grove, Okla. Despite now residing in Brownsburg, Ind., for all intents and purposes, Red Dirt Raceway is home for the driver who just turned 19 years old over the weekend.

 

To date, the most monumental victory of Pursley’s USAC racing career came at Red Dirt. In July of 2021, Pursley notched a NOW600 Micro Sprint win, and several minutes later that same night, picked up his first career USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship win at the 1/4-mile.

 

Now two years removed from that night, and a significant spinal injury that sidelined for nearly the entire 2022 season, Pursley is now back on track and setting his focus on earning a first career USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship points-paying race triumph this weekend.  And it very well could happen right at home.

 

Pursley is set to wheel his KO Motorsports/Hutson John Deere – S & C Machine – Peterbilt/Flea RC/J & D Chevy at Red Dirt for two consecutive nights of racing on Friday-Saturday, October 27-28, with a chance at pulling off a feat so few others have accomplished in the 68-year history of USAC racing.

 

Just six drivers have earned both their first USAC National Sprint Car and USAC National Midget points-paying event wins at the same track: Bob Hogle (Ascot Park), Bobby Unser (Ascot Park), Gary Patterson (Ascot Park), Jack Hewitt (Eldora Speedway), Mack McClellan (Illiana Motor Speedway) and Mike Bliss (Indianapolis Raceway Park).

 

Only California’s Hogle and Patterson were able to achieve both accolades in their respective home states as did Ohio’s Jack Hewitt. It’s something that Pursley is keen on seeing through with two opportunities this weekend on back-to-back nights.

 

Back in 2021, Pursley was a burgeoning talent on the midget racing scene and emerged with his first series win in what was his 47th career start for the Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports team. This weekend, Red Dirt will mark Pursley’s 39th and 40th career USAC National Sprint Car starts, getting right into the sweet spot of “winning time” just as he did two years earlier.

 

“I feel like it helped kickstart my career and just told me that I could do this at the national level and that I could maybe be pretty good at it one day,” Pursley reflected. “It was a trying time. You question yourself on whether you can do it and if you’re good enough.  Finally, all the stars aligned that night.”

 

Going even further back, Pursley reflected on the journey leading up to his USAC national break. He grew up as a fan of home state micro sprint heroes Frank Flud, Chris Andrews and Jason McDougal, drivers whom Pursley would eventually race with, and ultimately, go on to defeat from time to time.

 

Pursley himself became a standout on the NOW600 micro sprint trail, which included a heavy dose of Oklahoma venues such as Red Dirt Raceway, Port City Raceway, Creek County Speedway and I-44 Riverside Speedway. By 2017, he was a USAC champion in the Restricted 600 Micro class.

 

“On Friday nights, we’d always go up there (to Red Dirt) with my dad, my mom and me, and we’d go racing,” Pursley recalled. “Going up and down the road with your family is something I’ll always cherish and sometimes, kind of miss. You’re just a young kid who doesn’t have any stress in the world, just trying to make a name for yourself in the racing world and trying to make your parents proud. That’s why it was extremely special to finally knock off that first USAC National Midget win at Red Dirt.”

 

Pursley discovered early on that Red Dirt fit his driving style with a number of wins. However, with the track’s confines being a little big on the micro side, Pursley readily admitted he didn’t run the top often, but sure does have a lot of laps running the bottom.

 

Pursley’s Rookie year on the USAC National Sprint Car trail has had its fair share of highs, tests and learning curves to face. On the opening weekend of the 2023 season in February, he claimed a feature victory in a non-points special event on the half-mile of Florida’s Volusia Speedway Park.

 

In all, he’s accumulated three top-fives in 2023 USAC Sprint points-paying races with bests of second at Williams Grove, third at Port Royal and fifth at Lawrenceburg, and at 11th in the overall standings, is well on his way to collecting Rookie of the Year honors.

 

Yet a win on his home “turf” this weekend would certainly put the icing on the cake for a solid first season as a USAC National Sprint Car competitor.

 

“We’ve been in contention to win these races,” Pursley acknowledged. “I just feel like we haven’t been able to put a full night together whether that’s qualifying badly, missing the heat race transfer, then feeling really good in the feature despite starting too far back. We’ve had a really strong Rookie season with a whole lot of firsts. Non-wing sprint cars are animals that we’re trying to tame, and I feel like I’ve done an okay job. Sometimes I feel like I show up and kind of forget what I’m doing, and I feel like a complete Rookie again.  It would just be pretty special to cap off that season with a win in my home state.”

 

 

UPCOMING RACE DETAILS:

 

USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship (co-sanctioned by ASCS Elite Non-Wing Sprints) will compete at Meeker, Oklahoma’s Red Dirt Raceway for two consecutive nights of competition on Friday-Saturday, October 27-28. Sport Modifieds/B-Mods and Non-Wing Micros will comprise Friday night’s program while Factory Stocks and Non-Wing Micros will be on hand for Saturday night’s event.

 

A practice night will begin the weekend on Thursday, October 26, from 6:30-9pm Central. Grandstand admission is free while pit passes are $20 apiece.

 

On Friday, pit gates open at 2pm central with the grandstands opening at 5pm and cars on track at 6pm with qualifying and racing immediately following. On Saturday, pit gates open at noon central with the grandstands opening at 4pm and cars on track at 6pm with qualifying and racing immediately following.

 

General admission tickets are $30 on Friday and $35 on Saturday. High school students and younger are $10. Tickets are available online at www.reddirtraceway.com under the “Buy Tickets” tab and will be sold the day of the show as well.

 

All access passes (pit access & general admission seating) are available as well for $40 and available at the pit gate on the day of the show only. Pit passes for ages 5 & under are $10. The tailgate area is $175 per carload (up to 8 people per car).

 

USAC PR