A perfect 75-degree day greeted the USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget tour, along with the USAC/CRA and USAC Southwest Sprint Car competitors, at Arizona Speedway on Friday, the opening night of the 53rd annual Western World. Purists may say the Western World died with Manzanita Speedway, which I don’t entirely disagree; However, the namesake of the original event, which stems back to 1968, lives on with this event.
30 Midgets and 34 Sprint Cars checked-in for night one of the 2020 Western World. While most Midget competitors are winding down their long, grueling season, the USAC/CRA and USAC Southwest competitors have been chomping at the bit and anxious to race, since their season was suspended in March. While many west coast Sprint Car racers traveled to the midwest throughout the summer months, several entered this weekend nearly eight months removed from their last race.
Hot laps and qualifying were completed without major incident. Ryan Bernal of Hollister, Calif., was tabbed to wheel the Gene Gile Racing entry this weekend and he did not disappoint, ripping a 14.716 second lap around the 1/3rd-mile Arizona Speedway surface, to claim fast qualifier honors amongst his Sprint Car competitors.
Not to be outdone, Logan Seavey of Sutter, Calif., bested his own track record from last year, in NOS Energy National Midget competition, laying down a 15.137 second lap and beating his Reinbold-Underwood Racing teammate, Spencer Bayston of Lebanon, Ind., by .009 seconds.
Heat racing action was also completed with relatively little drama, on Friday. Chris Windom of Canton, Ill., Noah Gass of Mounds, Okla., Tyler Courtney of Indianapolis, Ind., and Tye Mihocko of Phoenix, Ariz., each claimed victories in their respective Sprint Car heats. Mihocko had, arguably, the steepest of odds after being tasked with holding-off Charles Davis Jr, RJ Johnson, Jake Swanson, Austin Williams and Thomas Meseraull in his heat.
On the Midget side of heat race action, Tanner Thorson of Minden, Nev., executed a perfect last-lap pass on Cole Bodine of Rossville, Ind., to claim victory in the first heat. Noah Gass proved his Sprint Car heat race win wasn’t a fluke, claiming the second heat race win, this time in his Midget. Youthful rookie, Chase Randall of Waco, Texas, led all eight laps of the third and final Midget heat race.
B-main action was completed timely, with Austin Williams of Yorba Linda, Calif., cruising to win on the Sprint Car side of things. Logan Seavey, Eddie Tafoya Jr, Matt McCarthy, Stevie Sussex and Max Adams joined Williams as transfers into Friday’s night feature.
Justin Grant of Ione, Calif., easily won the Midget B-main on Friday, punching his ticket into the upcoming feature, along with Carson Garrett, Cannon McIntosh, Bryant Wiedeman, Emerson Axsom, Thomas Meseraull and Tanner Carrick.
23 NOS Energy Drink National Midgets made the call for Friday night’s 30-lap, $3,000-to-win feature. Buddy Kofoid of Penngrove, Calif., took advantage of his outside front row starting position and claimed the early lead over Tanner Thorson and polesitter, Brenham Crouch of Lubbock, Texas. Unfortunately for Chase Randall, his night ended on the third lap when he slowed to a stop at the exit of turn four, bringing out the race’s first caution. The ensuing restart initiated a battle between Kofoid, Thorson and Logan Seavey, who had worked his way up to third. The three exchanged positions multiple times over the next several laps, executing perfect slide jobs. Finally, Seavey escaped Thorson and Kofoid’s grasp, allowing him to extend his lead by nearly two seconds. Seavey seemed destined to cruise to the victory on Friday, but a late race spin by Crouch setup a two-lap dash to the finish. That was the opening Thorson needed, as he dashed from third place to the lead at the entrance of turn one, sliding up in front of Seavey on the restart. Thorson cruised to win Friday’s NOS Energy Drink National Midget feature by 0.469 seconds over Seavey, with 13th-place starting Tyler Courtney charging in the closing laps, to claim the third and final spot on the podium. By finishing third, Courtney now holds a 32-point lead over Chris Windom and a 71-point lead over Thorson, going into Saturday night’s Western World finale.
Sprint Car Feature
Friday night’s 30-lap USAC/CRA and USAC Southwest 410 Sprint Car main event featured 22 drivers battling for the $2,500 payday. Brody Roa of Garden Gove, Calif., fired-off from his pole starting position and led the first few laps, before Logan Seavey made contact with Ryan Bernal and ended his night upside down, in the catch fence at the exit of turn two. Thankfully, Seavey was okay, but it took the Arizona Speedway track crew several minutes to unhook Seavey’s car from the fence. Roa continued where he left off on the ensuing restart, leading over Justin Grant, Tyler Courtney and Chris Windom. Courtney and Grant made quick work of Grant, pushing him back to fourth, as the two heavyweights began to gain on Roa. The completion of lap 12 saw Windom take the lead and set sail into turn one, while Courtney attempted a slider of his own. Unfortunately for Roa, Courtney was not clear and the two made contact. Courtney’s right-rear tire struck Roa’s left-front tire, near the exit of turn two. This caused Roa to hit the wall with his right-rear tire, helicopter around and nearly get upside down. While Roa’s car rested on the backstretch, Brody exited his vehicle and walked across the infield with a steadfast purpose toward Courtney, who was stopped on the frontstretch, during the race’s second red flag. Some “choice” words were exchanged, as Roa expressed his frustration with Courtney, for the failed slider.
As the race went back to caution, new race leader Chris Windom pulled into the infield with a possible flat tire. This handed the lead to Tyler Courtney, with 17 laps to go. Courtney had little resistance from Grant, who remained in hot pursuit. Two more quick cautions occurred on lap 20, as Damion Gardner of Concord, Calif., slowed from third place with a flat tire of his own. On the ensuing restart attempt, Matt Mitchell of Yorba Linda, Calif., slowed from his eighth place position and brought out the race’s final caution. Based on previous restarts, Courtney seemed destined to charge to the win over Grant; However, Justin had other ideas. Courtney slid high at the entrance of turn one, on lap 22 and hopped the cushion. That was the break Grant was looking for, as he quickly passed Courtney and never looked back. Courtney made several attempts to keep pace with Grant, but continued to overdrive and hop the large cushions located on corner exits. Grant claimed the USAC/CRA and USAC Southwest 410 Sprint Car feature on night one of the 53rd annual Western World, winning by 1.524 seconds over Tyler Courtney. Local racer, “Chargin” Charles Davis Jr brought home a very popular third place finish, to round-out the podium on Friday. Remarkably, Windom was able to overcome his flat tire and rebounded in the closing laps, finishing fifth.
Midget Feature Results
(starting position in parenthesis)
1.Tanner Thorson (3) 2. Logan Seavey (6) 3. Tyler Courtney (13) 4. Buddy Kofoid (2) 5. Daison Pursley (4) 6. Justin Grant (9) 7. Tanner Carrick (12) 8. Chris Windom (20) 9. Clinton Boyles (21) 10. Cannon McIntosh (11) 11. Spencer Bayston (5) 12. Bryant Wiedeman (10) 13. Jerry Coons Jr (17) 14. Emerson Axsom (22) 15. Brenham Crouch (1) 16. Thomas Meseraull (19) 17. Noah Gass (7) 18. Andrew Layser (23) 19. Cole Bodine (15) 20. Robert Dalby (18) 21. Kaylee Bryson (16) 22. Chase Johnson (14) 23. Chase Randall (8)
Sprint Car Feature Results
(starting position in parenthesis)
1.Justin Grant (5) 2. Tyler Courtney (4) 3. Charles Davis Jr (3) 4. Austin Williams (12) 5. Chris Windom (8) 6. Ryan Bernal (6) 7. Jake Swanson (16) 8. RJ Johnson (14) 9. Tye Mihocko (9) 10. Eddie Tafoya Jr (20) 11. Max Adams (11) 12. Noah Gass (7) 13. Tommy Malcolm (22) 14. Chris Bonneau (18) 15. Cody Williams (17) 16. Chris Gansen (19) 17. Matt McCarthy (15) 18. Stevie Sussex (21) 19. Matt Mitchell (2) 20. Damion Gardner (13) 21. Body Roa (1) 22. Logan Seavey (10)
Born and raised in Tucson, Arizona. Short track racing is my passion!