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For Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports, it was only a matter of time before winning returned to team’s narrative following a 27-race winless streak that stretched a span of 13 months until earlier this month.
Enter September and the team is now three-for-three with the USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midgets, and key to the KKM revival has been the surge of Cannon McIntosh, the Bixby, Okla. native who began the team’s winning streak on Sept. 4 in Sweet Springs, Mo. and kept it rolling through Friday night’s James Dean Classic, night one of the Indiana Donor Network Driven2SaveLives Double Double at Indiana’s Gas City I-69 Speedway.
Friday’s theme at the ¼-mile dirt oval was reminiscent of the tests they’ve endured throughout their 2020 campaign. Though the hurdles were aplenty early on, the stick-to-itiveness the team displayed has allowed them to dig themselves out of their relative early season doldrums to persevere once again, which Keith Kunz cars have done now 113 times with the series, second all-time.
“We weren’t that great in the heat race,” McIntosh admitted. “We got up to third and it was enough to get us to the feature and put us in a decent spot. Then, (crew chief) Kaz (Townsend) went to work on the car and made some changes. I believe in him, and the car was killer in the feature. I was getting a little tight at the end, just getting behind lapped traffic, but I just hung in there and we pulled off the win.”
McIntosh started his 30-lap feature from the fourth position in his TRD – Mobil1 – JBL Audio/Bullet By Spike/Speedway Toyota, but he wasn’t long for staying content with his position for as he blasted to the second spot on the opening lap by splitting between the two front row occupants, teammate Daison Pursley and outside front row starter Chase Johnson.
The pursuit of Pursley by McIntosh came to a head on the second lap when McIntosh showed a nose to Pursley while entering on the bottom of turn one. Pursley slid up just a tad at the exit of turn two and McIntosh powered past to occupy the race lead.
While McIntosh carved out a two second advantage in the opening third of the feature, Tyler Courtney began to emerge as a contender and was challenging Pursley for second on the outside of turn one when Pursley became sideways on the bottom of the racing surface. Fourth running Thomas Meseraull found no place to escape the fray and plowed into the idling Pursley. Pursley kept it running and continued on while Meseraull slid to a stop, prematurely curtailing his opportunity for a victory.
On the 14th lap, Courtney’s diligence paid off after having gone toe-to-toe with Pursley to the outside for several laps prior until streaming around the outside of Pursley entering the third turn. Likewise, for Kyle Cummins, who reversed the method by slipping to the inside of Pursley in turn one for third following a tedious battle between the two.
Still up nearly two seconds the race’s end approached, McIntosh possessed total control, keeping his car as straight as possible coming off turns two and four on the slightly slickened surface, gliding smoothly through traffic as he raced his way to his third career USAC National Midget feature win by a grand margin of 1.791 seconds over Courtney, Cummins and KSE Racing Products Hard Charger Tanner Thorson, who made his way from 17th on the grid to finish fourth in his debut aboard the Tom Malloy-owned ride.
Second-place finisher Courtney (Indianapolis, Ind.) raised his series-leading Fatheadz Eyewear Fast Qualifying time to five with his qualifying performance in the Clauson-Marshall Racing/NOS Turbo – ZMax/Spike/Stanton SR-11x. Courtney’s eighth consecutive top-three finish has moved the defending series champion to within nine points of leader Chris Windom, who finished 9th, in his quest for a repeat title.
“You always want to win these races, but we weren’t quite there,” Courtney explained. “We’ve just got to get a little better there for the whole feature, but all in all, it was a good night. We haven’t finished off the podium in a while, so it’s been a good stretch here. We’ve just got to get the car back in victory lane. I’m tired of second and third. Once I got to second there, I just couldn’t really make any ground up on Cannon. I think if the bottom would’ve slowed up just a little bit more than it did, I think my other line there through the middle would’ve came into play, but it just never did. Lapped cars played nice tonight; I was kind of banking on them to hold him up a little more than they did.”
Sprint Car ace Kyle Cummins (Princeton, Ind.) equaled best USAC National Midget run of his career Friday night at Gas City with a third in his Glenn Styres Racing/Oshweken Speedway – Lucas Oil Center/Spike/Stanton SR-11x, a team that gave him a chance to delve into the midget world on a more frequent basis this season, and Cummins hasn’t let them down.
“They believed in me to start running the midget a little bit, and to just kind of learn it,” Cummins said. “I wasn’t very good in the heat race, but in the B-Main we were a little better and there in the end, we weren’t so great. I don’t know what I’m doing, so we threw a couple things at it, and through the first half, this thing was on kill. Once it got slick there, I probably could’ve done a couple things, but third place in a midget, that’s pretty cool.”
Also of note, two drivers made their first career USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget feature starts at Gas City on Friday night, Chase Randall (Waco, Texas) and Hayden Reinbold (Gilbert, Ariz.). Randall finished 20th while Reinbold took 22nd.
USAC NOS ENERGY DRINK MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: September 25, 2020 – Gas City I-69 Speedway – Gas City, Indiana – 1/4-Mile Dirt Oval – James Dean Classic / Indiana Donor Network Driven2SaveLives Double Double
FATHEADZ EYEWEAR QUALIFYING: 1. Tyler Courtney, 7BC, Clauson/Marshall-12.149; 2. Kyle Cummins, 3G, Styres-12.164; 3. Emerson Axsom, 15, Petry-12.213; 4. Tyler Nelson, 88, Nelson-12.263; 5. Tanner Carrick, 35, Petry-12.298; 6. Logan Seavey, 91L, RMS-12.319; 7. Cannon McIntosh, 71K, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-12.325; 8. Ethan Mitchell, 19m, Bundy Built-12.349; 9. Chase Johnson, 25c, Malloy-12.363; 10. Daison Pursley, 9, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-12.364; 11. Chris Windom, 89, Tucker/Boat-12.371; 12. Chase Randall, 25, Petry-12.372; 13. Tanner Thorson, 25m, Malloy-12.400; 14. Buddy Kofoid, 67, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-12.402; 15. Hayden Reinbold, 19AZ, Reinbold/Underwood-12.413; 16. Clinton Boyles, 98, RMS-12.421; 17. Thomas Meseraull, 7x, RMS-12.476; 18. Justin Grant, 5, Petry-12.482; 19. Andrew Layser, 82, Tucker/Boat-12.485; 20. Karter Sarff, 55K, Sparks-12.504; 21. Kaylee Bryson, 71, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-12.512; 22. Robert Dalby, 4, Dalby-12.523; 23. Sam Johnson, 72, Johnson-12.540; 24. Cole Bodine, 39BC, Clauson/Marshall-12.541; 25. Brady Bacon, 19, Hayward-12.555; 26. Brenham Crouch, 97, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-12.598; 27. Bryant Wiedeman, 67K, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-12.741; 28. Gage Rucker, 19G, Hayward-13.255; 29. Doug Hewitt, 82H, Cordonnier-13.406; 30. Oliver Akard, 41, Akard-13.434; 31. Kameron Gladish, 20, Nolen-13.603; 32. Glenn Waterland, 11c, Waterland-13.723; 33. Chris Jagger Jr., 32, Jagger-13.770; 34. David Budres, 31, Manic-14.416; 35. Chris Jagger, 27, Jagger-NT.
SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS FIRST HEAT: (10 laps, top-5 transfer to the feature) 1. Thomas Meseraull, 2. Chase Johnson, 3. Kaylee Bryson, 4. Tyler Courtney, 5. Tanner Carrick, 6. Tanner Thorson, 7. Brady Bacon, 8. Doug Hewitt, 9. Chris Jagger Jr.
COMPETITION SUSPENSION (CSI) SECOND HEAT: (10 laps, top-5 transfer to the feature) 1. Justin Grant, 2. Buddy Kofoid, 3. Daison Pursley, 4. Robert Dalby, 5. Kyle Cummins, 6. Logan Seavey, 7. Brenham Crouch, 8. Oliver Akard, 9. David Budres.
AUTOMETER THIRD HEAT: (10 laps, top-5 transfer to the feature) 1. Andrew Layser, 2. Chris Windom, 3. Cannon McIntosh, 4. Emerson Axsom, 5. Sam Johnson, 6. Bryant Wiedeman, 7. Hayden Reinbold, 8. Kameron Gladis.
INDY RACE PARTS FOURTH HEAT: 1. Cole Bodine, 2. Clinton Boyles, 3. Ethan Mitchell, 4. Chase Randall, 5. Gage Rucker, 6. Tyler Nelson, 7. Glenn Waterland, 8. Karter Sarff.
INDY METAL FINISHING SEMI: (12 laps, top-7 transfer to the feature) 1. Logan Seavey, 2. Kyle Cummins, 3. Tanner Thorson, 4. Brady Bacon, 5. Tanner Carrick, 6. Tyler Nelson, 7. Brenham Crouch, 8. Bryant Wiedeman, 9. Sam Johnson, 10. Hayden Reinbold, 11. Gage Rucker, 12. Glenn Waterland, 13. Kameron Gladish, 14. David Budres, 15. Doug Hewitt, 16. Chris Jagger Jr., 17. Oliver Akard.
FEATURE: (30 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Cannon McIntosh (4), 2. Tyler Courtney (6), 3. Kyle Cummins (11), 4. Tanner Thorson (17), 5. Emerson Axsom (5), 6. Justin Grant (8), 7. Buddy Kofoid (18), 8. Daison Pursley (1), 9. Chris Windom (15), 10. Tanner Carrick (13), 11. Brady Bacon (22), 12. Andrew Layser (9), 13. Logan Seavey (14), 14. Clinton Boyles (19), 15. Thomas Meseraull (7), 16. Chase Johnson (2), 17. Cole Bodine (10), 18. Robert Dalby (21), 19. Kaylee Bryson (20), 20. Chase Randall (16), 21. Tyler Nelson (12), 22. Hayden Reinbold (23*), 23. Ethan Mitchell (3). NT
* represents a provisional starter
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-2 Daison Pursley, Laps 3-30 Cannon McIntosh.
USAC NOS ENERGY DRINK MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Chris Windom-1,321, 2-Tyler Courtney-1,312, 3-Tanner Thorson-1,226, 4-Buddy Kofoid-1,226, 5-Cannon McIntosh-1,145, 6-Tanner Carrick-1,002, 7-Daison Pursley-956, 8-Cole Bodine-816, 9-Andrew Layser-811, 10-Justin Grant-743.
INDIANA DONOR NETWORK DRIVEN2SAVELIVES DOUBLE DOUBLE PROSOURCE PASSING MASTER POINTS: 1-Chris Windom-23, 2-Brady Bacon-13, 3-Tanner Thorson-13, 4-Buddy Kofoid-11, 5-Shane Cottle-9, 6-Robert Ballou-9, 7-Justin Grant-8, 8-Kyle Cummins-8, 9-Carson Short-6, 10-Clinton Boyles-5.
OVERALL PROSOURCE PASSING MASTER POINTS: 1-Chris Windom-162, 2-Tanner Thorson-96, 3-Shane Cottle-95, 4-Kyle Cummins-86, 5-Justin Grant-84, 6-Robert Ballou-82, 7-Logan Seavey-77, 8-Brady Bacon-74, 9-Cannon McIntosh-72, 10-Andrew Layser-65.
CONTINGENCY AWARD WINNERS:
Fatheadz Eyewear Fast Qualifier: Tyler Courtney
Simpson Race Products First Heat Winner: Thomas Meseraull
Competition Suspension, Inc. Second Heat Winner: Justin Grant
AutoMeter Third Heat Winner: Andrew Layser
Indy Race Parts Fourth Heat Winner: Cole Bodine
Indy Metal Finishing Semi Winner: Logan Seavey
KSE Racing Products Hard Charger: Tanner Thorson (17th to 4th)
Wilwood Brakes 13th Place Finisher: Logan Seavey
Saldana Racing Products First Non-Transfer / Wilwood Tough Brake Award:
Roger & Barb Tapy 13th Fastest Qualifier: Brenham Crouch
ProSource Hard Work Award: Brady Bacon
BC Saved 5 Lives 5th place Midget Feature Finisher: Emerson Axsom