Next Stop Is Merced! USAC Midgets Go Two Straight In The Golden State

Next Stop Is Merced! USAC Midgets Go Two Straight In The Golden State

The USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship's tour of California continues with events at Merced Speedway on back-to-back nights.

Nov 22, 2022 by FloRacing Staff
Next Stop Is Merced! USAC Midgets Go Two Straight In The Golden State

Onward to Merced!

The USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship's tour of California continues Tuesday and Wednesday with events at Merced Speedway on back-to-back nights.

An expected field of 40-plus entries, and all four past USAC National Midget winners at Merced, will check in for both nights in pursuit of victory: Buddy Kofoid, Justin Grant, Tanner Thorson and Thomas Meseraull.

All Four Past Winners

Kofoid (Penngrove, California) enters as the most recent Merced winner (last November), where he practically cemented his title aspirations. 

This Tuesday night, he could do the much the same. The magic number is 29. By gaining 29 more points, Kofoid will clinch the 2022 USAC National Midget title.

Riding into Merced on a two-race winning streak after last weekend's $32,000 Hangtown 100 win at Placerville (California) Speedway, Kofoid has finished second, third and first in his last three Merced starts. To boot, he's also the one-lap track record holder in a midget at Merced with a time of 11.635 seconds.

RMS Racing cars have won on opening night at Merced in two consecutive seasons. 

Meseraull (San Jose, California) made his first visit to the quarter-mile dirt oval a victorious performance in 2020. 

Grant (Ione, California) captured a non-stop, green-to-checkered feature at Merced in 2021, timing in with a 30-lap effort at a blazing 6:14.35. Grant also notched a third-place finish on the second night a year ago.

Thorson (Minden, Nevada) rotated turns with two other drivers during the final six laps to capture the second-night victory in 2020 at Merced. He's the only driver to finish all four USAC National Midget features at Merced inside the top-10 with a fifth-place effort in the 2020 opener, followed by second and ninth in 2021.

A Track Record For You, A Track Record For All

Each visit by the USAC National Midgets to Merced has produced a new one-lap track record.

Spencer Bayston (Lebanon, Indiana) set quick time on the initial visit to the speedway in 2020. The 2017 USAC National Midget champ has finished solidly, too, capturing an eighth and fifth in two appearances in 2020.

Carson Macedo (Lemoore, California) lowered the Merced track record on the opening night of 2021, eclipsing the mark set by Kyle Larson on Night 2 in 2020. 

The 2016 USAC National Midget Rookie was a top-10 finisher on both nights in 2020 with a fourth and seventh, and he garnered a ninth on Night 1 in 2021. His track record was short-lived, however, and it was broken the following evening by Kofoid, the current holder.

Upping The Ante In Merced

Tanner Carrick (Lincoln, California) won his first USAC National Midget feature in three seasons a week ago at Placerville, providing Keith Kunz his record-breaking 134th victory as an entrant in USAC National Midget competition. Carrick led eight laps and finished as the runner-up in the series debut at Merced in 2020.

Cannon McIntosh (Bixby, Oklahoma), a three-time USAC National Midget feature winner this season, twice has been a runner-up at Merced with a third and fifth on Night 1 of 2020 and 2021, respectively.

Jade Avedisian (Clovis, California) burst into the consciousness of the USAC National Midget brethren at Merced when she battled tooth-and-nail to a fourth-place result on the second of two nights in 2021.

Two-time USAC National Midget feature winner Emerson Axsom (Franklin, Indiana) posted a pair of high-quality results at Merced in 2021 finishing fourth and sixth. He'll be taking on this week's two nights with the same Tom Malloy team that won the season-closer at Merced in 2020 with Thorson.

Logan Seavey (Sutter, California), the 2018 USAC National Midget champion, earned a best of fifth on Night 2 at Merced in 2021 to go along with sixth and eighth in 2020 and 2021, respectively.

Additional top-10 runs throughout the field in past Merced races include Shane Golobic (Fremont, California), who was sixth in both 2020 and 2021, as well as an eighth in 2021. 

Golobic also reigned triumphant with the USAC Western States Midgets in April 2022 at Merced. 

Bryant Wiedeman (Colby, Kansas) was seventh on Night 2 in 2021. Top 2022 series rookie Mitchel Moles (Raisin City, California) recorded both of his best runs on Night 2 of 2020 (10th) and 2021 (seventh).

Oklahomans Jason McDougal (Broken Arrow, Oklahoma) and Ryan Timms (Oklahoma City) rounded out the top-10 on each night of the 2021 event at Merced.

Returning To Merced, We Said

Returning to the Merced lineup for another go are multi-time USAC National Midget feature winners Kevin Thomas Jr. and Daison Pursley. 

Thomas (Cullman, Alabama) was a 12th-place finisher on Night 2 in 2021. Pursley (Locust Grove, Oklahoma) picked up a 12th on Night 2 in 2020 and led a lap in that year's opener.

Taylor Reimer (Bixby) collected an 11th on Night 2 of 2021. 

Chance Crum (Snohomish, Washington), who advanced 21st to second during last Saturday's Hangtown 100 at Placerville, finished 14th at Merced on Night 2 of 2021. 

Jake Andreotti (Castro Valley, Calif.) took 15th in 2021 with the National series and was fifth with USAC Western States in June 2022.

Kaylee Bryson (Muskogee, Oklahoma) scored 16th in 2021, while Brenham Crouch (Lubbock, Texas) notched a 19th in 2021.

Two-time and current USAC Western States Midget champ Michael Faccinto (Hanford, California) ran second in both USAC Western States Midget races this season at Merced and was 22nd with the USAC National Midgets in 2020. 

Hayden Reinbold (Gilbert, Arizona) pocketed 24th in 2021.

Gateway To Yosemite & To A First At Merced

First-time Merced-starting hopefuls with the USAC National Midgets include Auckland, New Zealand, natives Michael Pickens and Travis Buckley.

One-time USAC National Midget feature winner Jacob Denney (Galloway, Ohio) will make his debut Merced appearance and will be joined by 2021 USAC Western States Midget champion Blake Bower (Brentwood, California) who finished third and fourth in a pair of 2021 USAC WS starts at Merced.

USAC's East Coast Sprint Car titlist of 2021 and USAC Eastern Midget king of 2018, Alex Bright (Collegeville, Pennsylvania), readies for his first run at Merced, as does 2022 BC39 Stoops Pursuit victor Dominic Gorden (Clovis).

Rocky Mountain Midget Racing Association's Blaze Bennett (Parker, Colorado) and Lance Bennett (Aurora, Colorado) will make their first stop on the California swing at Merced.

USAC West Coast Sprint Car feature winner Daniel Whitley (Ferndale, California) will be on hand, along with Dylan Bloomfield (Oakley, California), who made a USAC West Coast Sprint Car start at Merced in 2021. 

Nathan Byrd (Goodyear, Arizona) will make his Merced debut, along with Austin Barnhill (Wilmington, North Carolina) and Zach Telford (Middleton, Idaho), who will team with newcomer Teddy Bivert (Payette, Idaho) in a second GR Motorsports machine.

Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports rookies Mariah Ede and Gavin Miller are on the route to Merced, where they both look to make first feature starts at the track. Steve Hix (Ventura, California) and Kyle Beilman (Los Angeles) aim to do the same.

Race Details

Both Tuesday and Wednesday's events pay $4,000-to-win for the USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship. Winged 360 Sprint Cars are also on the card both nights.

The pits will open at 2 p.m. Pacific, grandstands will open at 5 p.m. and the drivers' meeting is set for 5 p.m. Cars will take the track at 5:30 p.m.

Adult general admission for ages 13 and up is $25. Kids 6-12 general admission is $10. Senior general admission is $20. Military general admission is $20.

Advance Tuesday tickets can be purchased here.

Advance Wednesday tickets can be purchased here.

Both Merced races this week will be streamed live on FloRacing. Watch here.