Buddy Kofoid & Daison Pursley Eye USAC Midget Top Rookie Honors

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When you’re a member of Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports, there’s an inherent expectation to produce results. That’s no exception when it comes to the Rookies on the team as well – Buddy Kofoid and Daison Pursley – both of whom begin their quests as first-year full-time drivers on the USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget trail in 2020.

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Both were able to get their feet wet, so to speak, in USAC competition toward the tail end of 2019 with each making four starts on the west coast swing in November.  Kofoid, who also captured a 2019 sprint car track championship at Ohio’s Fremont Speedway, progressively improved in each start, finished with a 6th place run at the Turkey Night Grand Prix in Ventura, Calif., the second best Rookie finisher in the event behind 2020 KKM teammate Cannon McIntosh who took second.

Meanwhile, 2017 USAC Micro Sprint champion Pursley captured heat race victories in his first two nights aboard a KKM midget at Arizona Speedway’s Western World Championships in 2019 and earned a top finish of 12th on the second night at Arizona.

As it stands now, Kofoid (Penngrove, Calif.) and Pursley (Locust Grove, Okla.) appear to be the main contenders for the series’ Rookie of the Year award, something of which is not too unfamiliar for a KKM driver to accomplish throughout the past decade-plus.

Eight different KKM drivers have earned their place as USAC National Midget Rookie of the Year since 2005: Darren Hagen (2005), Bryan Clauson (2006), Kyle Larson (2011), Rico Abreu (2012), Christopher Bell (2013), Carson Macedo (2016), Tanner Carrick (2017) and Logan Seavey (2018).

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Abreu, Bell and Seavey became series champions for KKM and, in fact, Bell and Seavey each earned their championships in their Rookie years with the series.  All but Macedo, a highly successful driver on the World of Outlaws Sprint Car circuit these days, won USAC National Midget feature events for KKM. 

Rookies in general have had their share of success in USAC National Midgets during their first full-time year.  Since the inception of the RoY honor for the series in 1969, 15 drivers have won a feature event and the Rookie of the Year award in the same season.

Danny Caruthers had the most successful Rookie USAC National Midget season, capturing 12 wins and clinching the title in his one and only full-time year with the series.  With just three races remaining, Caruthers was fatally injured at California’s Corona Raceway, yet had enough of a cushion in the standings to secure the title posthumously.

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Four KKM drivers won in their Rookie USAC National Midget season, including Bryan Clauson in 2006 with one victory.  He’s also the only driver in the group to win prior to his Rookie of the Year season as well, capturing victory in October of 2005 at Ohio’s Columbus Motor Speedway.  Kyle Larson won four times in 2011, Christopher Bell seven during his title season and Logan Seavey three on his road to a series championship.

Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. stepped into the seat of Tony Stewart Racing’s No. 21 during the 2007 season and was a heavyweight from the word “go,” notching five victories including the Hut 100, the Knoxville Midget Nationals and the 4-Crown Nationals.  Larry Patton won three of his seven in his first go-around with the series in 1975 while Bobby East collected three in 2001.

Jim Keeker won his first two on a single weekend in his Rookie year of 1988.  A year later, future four-time NASCAR Cup champion Jeff Gordon burst onto the scene with a pair of wins in 1989.  Grabbing one victory apiece during their USAC National Midget Rookie of the Year seasons were Billy Engelhart (1969), Mike Gregg (1973), Richard Powell (1974), Barry Butterworth (1979) and Teddy Beach (2002).

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Kofoid and Pursley have the combination of winning potential and quality equipment behind them provided by the series’ second all-time winningest series team owner, Keith Kunz (110 wins).  Perhaps 2020 will be their time to not only add their name to the extensive Kunz win list, but also to the list of winners during their maiden voyage as a USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget driver.

USAC NATIONAL MIDGET ROOKIES OF THE YEAR:

(Number of wins during their Rookie season is in parentheses)

1969: Billy Engelhart (1)

1970: Danny Brown (0)

1971: Danny Caruthers (12, Champion)

1972: Tommy Astone (0)

1973: Mike Gregg (1)

1974: Richard Powell (1)

1975: Larry Patton (3)

1976: James McElreath (0)

1977: Lonnie Caruthers (0)

1978: Tommy Thomas (0)

1979: Barry Butterworth (1)

1980: Trevor Boys (0)

1981: Sherman Armstrong, Jr. (0)

1982: Chris Maxson (0)

1983: John Andretti (0)

1984: Russ Gamester (0)

1985: Bobby Allen (0)

1986: Steve Enlow (0)

1987: John Meyers (0)

1988: Jim Keeker (2)

1989: Jeff Gordon (2)

1990: Dan Ford (0)

1991: Doug Kalitta (0)

1992: Brian Gerster (0)

1993: Chuck Leary (0)

1994: David Bridges (0)

1995: Ryan Newman (0)

1996: Carl Olsen (0)

1997: Nick Lundgreen (0)

1998: Michael Lewis (0)

1999: A.J. Fike (0)

2000: Aaron Fike (0)

2001: Bobby East (3)

2002: Teddy Beach (1) & Ron Gregory (0)

2003: Ryan Durst (0)

2004: Todd Beach (0)

2005: Darren Hagen (0)

2006: Bryan Clauson (1)

2007: Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. (5)

2008: Chad Boat (0)

2009: Zach Daum (0)

2010: Daniel Bedford (0)

2011: Kyle Larson (4)

2012: Rico Abreu (0)

2013: Christopher Bell (7, Champion)

2014: Kevin Thomas, Jr. (0)

2015: Spencer Bayston (0)

2016: Carson Macedo (0)

2017: Tanner Carrick (0)

2018: Logan Seavey (3, Champion)

2019: Andrew Layser (0)

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