Thorson Surges Late at Western World

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For the final push to victory on the green-white-checkered finish of Friday night’s USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget feature at Arizona Speedway, most eyes were affixed on the front two of Logan Seavey and Buddy Kofoid as the pair streamed into turn one. Watch full coverage.

By the time those two reached the second turn, it was, instead, Tanner Thorson who combed the bottom of turns one and two, driving past both Seavey and Kofoid to secure the lead en route to bringing home a 19th career series victory, tying himself with Jerry Coons Jr., Stan Fox and Jason Leffler for 34th all-time.

“That’s what it’s all about right there, those last few laps and having a car to win,” Thorson exclaimed in victory lane after capturing the opener for the 53rd annual Western World Championships presented by San Tan Ford.  “We concentrated really hard to set up for the end of the race.  After I got screwed around for quite some time, we had a fast car, but we were too far back.”

Outside front row starter Kofoid controlled the pace for the first four trips around the 1/3-mile dirt oval until Thorson, of Minden, Nev., took to the top on the fifth circuit, drifting around the outside of Kofoid at the exit of turn four to lead a single lap by a wheel before Kofoid retook over amidst a flurry of sliders that also included Seavey.

The rapidly emerging Seavey, who had earlier set a new one-lap track record for the series at Arizona Speedway in qualifying, which broke his own record from the previous year, diamonded off the third turn to slip under Kofoid on the 10th lap.  While Seavey just missed out on winning the race to the start/finish line, he did win the race to turn one where he assumed the lead and established his dominance throughout the final two-thirds of the 30-lap contest.

Kofoid moved back past Thorson for the runner-up position on the 12th lap, then separated himself from Thorson by over a second while still remaining a second-and-a-half behind Seavey who was carving his path through traffic, a half-straightaway ahead of Kofoid.

Seavey appeared headed for surefire victory, taking the white flag with a 1.643 sec. interval over Kofoid when 13th running Brenham Crouch, who started on the pole, stopped in turn two, just ahead of Seavey of the oncoming Seavey, thus setting up a two-lap dash.

As the green flag dropped, Kofoid immediately moved down a lane on the front straightaway, setting up his slide job into turn one, which initially worked until Seavey crossed over and dove back underneath Kofoid for the position.   To Seavey’s chagrin, the cross over move only brought him back to the second spot as Thorson snuck under both with the lead now in his hands.

Moments later, Kofoid slid Seavey back in turn three with Seavey once again crossing over off the fourth corner and denying Kofoid the spot.  However, it was just a little too late with Thorson stretching his lead out to four car lengths by the time they’d hit the back straightaway.

Thorson closed it out with a 0.469 sec. margin of victory in his Tom Malloy/Trench Shoring – Ed Pink Racing Engines – Rodela Fabrication/King/Ed Pink Toyota.  It was the 2016 USAC National Midget champion’s series-leading sixth feature triumph of the season.  Logan Seavey, Tyler Courtney, Buddy Kofoid and Daison Pursley rounded out the top-five at the finish.

The first four of Thorson’s six 2020 victories came aboard the Hayward Motorsports ride. In five starts with Tom Malloy’s machinery, Thorson has finished 4th, 3rd, 1st, 2nd and 1st, making the pairing the most successful in this stretch that began in late September.

“This car has been fast every time I’ve been in it,” Thorson said as he celebrated via phone with 2014 Western World Midget winner Darren Hagen.  “We’ve run five times and we’ve been in the top-five every time and won two races.  I can’t say enough about Jerome (Rodela), Chris (Tramel), Brinton (Marvel), Ed Pink, Tom, and all of Tom’s family with Trench Shoring.  They’ve given me the opportunity to come out and run with them and it’s paying off.  I’ve got to thank Reliable; he allows me to go out on the road and do this, so it’s pretty awesome.”

Logan Seavey led a race-high 19 laps but saw victory slip away on the final restart in his Reinbold-Underwood Motorsports/AME Electrical Contracting – ZMax/Spike/Stanton SR-11x.

“Overall, we had a good car, ran a good race and I felt like I did my job,” Seavey stated.  “Under yellow, the thing just wouldn’t take off.  I knew it wasn’t going to take off.  I took off in turn three and it never went until about the flag stand.  I didn’t have the gear to run the bottom, so I knew I couldn’t go to the bottom and I knew I was going to get slid in one.  But I thought I had enough to turn down and cross (Kofoid) over, which I did, but it just gave Tanner (Thorson) too good of a run on the bottom.”

“It’s just frustrating,” Seavey continued.  “It’s November and we can’t get these things to take off on restarts.  Our car was good under green, but you’ve just got to be able to get away from those guys on restarts and we couldn’t do it, just couldn’t put the whole race together.”

A third-place run after starting 13th on the grid was as good as gold for two-time Western World Sprint Car champion Tyler Courtney who gained ground in his quest toward a second consecutive USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget driving title, and now leads Chris Windom by 32 points with four races remaining in his Clauson-Marshall Racing/NOS Turbo – ZMax/Spike/Stanton SR-11x.

“It was a great night, going from fifth to third there (on the final restart) is good for the big picture things,” Courtney said.  “Obviously, you want to win, but it’s tough when you start 13th.   That just put us behind the eight ball.  We haven’t qualified bad all year until we got here, but I think we figured out a lot of things to help us out for tomorrow so that we can start our night out better and put ourselves in a spot to be able to contend for the win instead of having to salvage a third.


USAC NOS ENERGY DRINK MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP & USAC WESTERN STATES MIDGET RACE RESULTS: November 13, 2020 – Arizona Speedway – San Tan Valley, Arizona – 53rd Western World Championships Presented by San Tan Ford

FATHEADZ EYEWEAR/WOODLAND AUTO DISPLAY QUALIFYING: 1. Logan Seavey, 19A, Reinbold/Underwood-15.137 (New Track Record); 2. Spencer Bayston, 19s, Reinbold/Underwood-15.146; 3. Justin Grant, 5, Petry-15.190; 4. Bryant Wiedeman, 67K, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-15.217; 5. Cannon McIntosh, 71K, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-15.243; 6. Daison Pursley, 9, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-15.393; 7. Tanner Thorson, 25m, Malloy-15.474; 8. Buddy Kofoid, 67, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-15.505; 9. Tanner Carrick, 98K, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-15.522; 10. Brenham Crouch, 97, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-15.534; 11. Tyler Courtney, 7BC, Clauson/Marshall-15.587; 12. Chase Johnson, 25c, Malloy-15.595; 13. Cole Bodine, 39BC, Clauson/Marshall-15.603; 14. Noah Gass, 20G, Gass-15.627; 15. Chase Randall, 25, Petry-15.634; 16. Kaylee Bryson, 71, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-15.650; 17. Jerry Coons Jr., 28, Dave Mac-15.654; 18. Robert Dalby, 4, Dalby-15.665; 19. Stevie Sussex, 1G, Styres-15.671; 20. Thomas Meseraull, 7x, RMS-15.672; 21. Chris Windom, 89, Tucker/Boat-15.713; 22. Ethan Mitchell, 19m, Bundy Built-15.728; 23. Jesse Love, 97K, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-15.734; 24. Clinton Boyles, 98, RMS-15.810; 25. Emerson Axsom, 15, Petry-15.834; 26. Hayden Reinbold, 19AZ, Reinbold/Underwood-15.878; 27. Carson Garrett, 15x, Garrett-16.080; 28. Andrew Layser, 82, Tucker/Boat-16.250; 29. Casey Schmitz, 00, MSW-16.648; 30. Ryan Oerter, 43, Oerter-18.304.

SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS/EXTREME MUFFLERS FIRST HEAT: (8 laps, top-5 transfer to the feature) 1. Tanner Thorson, 2. Cole Bodine, 3. Logan Seavey, 4. Kaylee Bryson, 5. Brenham Crouch, 6. Emerson Axsom, 7. Bryant Wiedeman, 8. Ethan Mitchell, 9. Stevie Sussex, 10. Andrew Layser. 2:11.674

COMPETITION SUSPENSION (CSI) SECOND HEAT: (8 laps, top-5 transfer to the feature) 1. Noah Gass, 2. Tyler Courtney, 3. Jerry Coons Jr., 4. Spencer Bayston, 5. Buddy Kofoid, 6. Cannon McIntosh, 7. Thomas Meseraull, 8. Jesse Love, 9. Casey Schmitz, 10. Hayden Reinbold. 2:10.260

AUTOMETER/ULTRA SHIELD RACE PRODUCTS THIRD HEAT: (8 laps, top-5 transfer to the feature) 1. Chase Randall, 2. Chase Johnson, 3. Robert Dalby, 4. Chris Windom, 5. Daison Pursley, 6. Tanner Carrick, 7. Justin Grant, 8. Clinton Boyles, 9. Carson Garrett, 10. Ryan Oerter. 2:11.054

INDY RACE PARTS/INDY METAL FINISHING/ROD END SUPPLY SEMI: (12 laps, top-7 transfer to the feature) 1. Justin Grant, 2. Cannon McIntosh, 3. Bryant Wiedeman, 4. Emerson Axsom, 5. Thomas Meseraull, 6. Tanner Carrick, 7. Clinton Boyles, 8. Ethan Mitchell, 9. Jesse Love, 10. Andrew Layser, 11. Casey Schmitz, 12. Stevie Sussex, 13. Carson Garrett, 14. Hayden Reinbold, 15. Ryan Oerter. NT

FEATURE: (30 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 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). NT

* represents a provisional starter

FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-4 Buddy Kofoid, Lap 5 Tanner Thorson, Laps 6-9 Buddy Kofoid, Laps 10-28 Logan Seavey, Laps 29-30 Tanner Thorson.

USAC NOS ENERGY DRINK MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Tyler Courtney-1,579, 2-Chris Windom-1,547, 3-Tanner Thorson-1,508, 4-Buddy Kofoid-1,451, 5-Cannon McIntosh-1,338, 6-Daison Pursley-1,147, 7-Tanner Carrick-1,094, 8-Cole Bodine-977, 9-Justin Grant-967, 10-Andrew Layser-951.

OVERALL PROSOURCE PASSING MASTER POINTS: 1-Chris Windom-203, 2-Tanner Thorson-108, 3-Kyle Cummins-108, 4-Robert Ballou-101, 5-Logan Seavey-97, 6-Shane Cottle-96, 7-Justin Grant-89, 8-Cannon McIntosh-85, 9-Brady Bacon-79, 10-Tyler Courtney-78.

NEXT USAC NOS ENERGY DRINK MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP/USAC WESTERN STATES MIDGET RACE: November 14, 2020 – Arizona Speedway – San Tan Valley, Arizona – Western World Championships presented by San Tan Ford



Fatheadz Eyewear/Woodland Auto Display Fast Qualifier: Logan Seavey

Simpson Race Products/Extreme Mufflers First Heat Winner: Tanner Thorson

Competition Suspension, Inc. Second Heat Winner: Noah Gass

AutoMeter/Ultra Shield Race Products Third Heat Winner: Chase Randall

Indy Race Parts/Indy Metal Finishing/Rod End Supply Semi Winner: Justin Grant

KSE Racing Products/Rod End Supply Hard Charger: Chris Windom (20th to 8th)

Wilwood Brakes 13th Place Finisher: Jerry Coons Jr.

Saldana Racing Products First Non-Transfer: Ethan Mitchell

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QUEEN CREEK, Ariz. (Jan. 13) — Brian Shirley saw the situation one way. Ricky Thornton Jr. viewed it another.In the first controversial moment of the 15th annual Keyser Manufacturing Wild West Shootout at FK Rod Ends Arizona Speedway, there was simply no middle ground reached between the two drivers who saw their hopes for victory in Wednesday night’s 30-lap Super Late Model feature dashed by an early-race tangle.The pair of top contenders — Thornton logged finishes of first and second in the miniseries’s opening-weekend events while Shirley was just a bit behind with runs of third and fourth — were battling for third place on lap seven of the A-main when their evenings went awry. 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I’m more disappointed because I braked for him and he couldn’t brake for me. It’s a two-way street.”From Shirley’s standpoint, his aggressive bid on Thornton was merely him reacting to the opening he was presented.“I made a move because when we were coming out of four, he pushed up,” Shirley said. “I was running the high side and he was running the bottom. He would’ve hit me if I wouldn’t have hit the brakes, so I moved down because I had the momentum to slide him. Instead of him turning back down to try and cross me back over he just ran into the left side of the door.“I don’t know what to say,” he continued. “I don’t know what I would’ve done any different. We wouldn’t have even been in the situation if he wouldn’t have pushed up out of four where I was already there. If he would’ve stayed on the bottom I would’ve went right by him without an issue, but he pushed out so then I had to figure out an exit plan.”Thornton, 30, certainly didn’t agree with the tactics Shirley decided to employ.“So I ran the bottom in three and four,” Thornton began. “I didn’t have all my speed down the front straightaway, and I kind of figured someone was gonna slide me. But then we entered and I thought we were good, and then he slid me, like, kind of late in the corner almost.“Watching the in-car (camera footage from his car), it looked like (Shirley) spun out, but, I think because he carried so much speed in the corner, he knew he was gonna destroy the wall so he tried to turn it sideways. When he did, he pretty much parked it (on the cushion), so then I had nowhere to go. At that point I was already back on the throttle. At that point there was no turning down or anything.”When Thornton contacted Shirley’s car, the right-rear deck and quarter-panel of Thornton’s SSI Motorsports Longhorn mount was pulled astray, leading him to limp into the infield with the sheet metal flopping along the track. Shirley’s Bob Cullen-owned XR1 Rocket was shoved into the outside wall before Scott slid into the back of both cars, eliminating him as well. Bobby Pierce of Oakwood, Ill., also slapped Shirley’s car as he passed by but was able to continue racing to a fifth-place finish.Thornton felt fortunate that his 3-race-old car escaped the crash with mostly cosmetic damage, but he was well aware that he lost an opportunity to move a step closer to the Keyser Manufacturing bonus dollars posted for winning three or more races.“It just ripped the whole right side off,” said Thornton, who, with three races remaining in the miniseries, remains alive for the bonuses of $10,000 (three wins) and $25,000 (four victories). “It got the body, left-rear shock, couple left-rear parts just from Stormy getting in the left rear.“It kind of sucks for that to happen, especially on lap six of the race or whatever it was,” he added. “I had a really good car. I took off and I was running hard, but not so hard that I was gonna kill my stuff.”While there was no love lost between the two drivers after the incident — a Thornton team member even expressed his displeasure by tossing a signal stick at Shirley’s passing car in the infield (the stick bounced off Shirley’s car and nearly struck a photographer standing nearby) — they were ready to move on to the concluding weekend of WWS action.“It is what it is,” Thornton said, “and we’ll get it fixed up and try again on Friday.”“Luckily it just looks like a lot of bodywork, but it still ruins your night,” Shirley commented. “We started 11th and was passing him for third so it wasn’t like we sucked. We’ve been trying different things, little bitty things every race we’re in. In the heat race I felt like we were horrible, and then, I hate to say, we just put the thing back to where it was when I won them races last year (three WWS features) and that’s how I went.“We’ll put it back together and hopefully next time circumstances might come out a little different.”

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