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Zach Daum in victory lane at Millbridge Speedway. (Joe Grabianowski photo)

Daum Breaks Through In Millbridge Xtreme Run

SALISBURY, N.C. — Zach Daum was in need of a spark. Something to get he and the Trifecta Motorsports team back on track after a string of misfortunes and up-and-down results.

Who would have guessed they’d find it at the red-clay, sixth-mile North Carolina bullring known as Millbridge Speedway – a place Daum took a hard crash at and destroyed his own car one year prior.

Daum, the 33-year-old open-wheel champion from Pocahontas, IL, took the lead on a late restart in the finale of the DIAEDGE Double Down Showdown Wednesday night and drove off to a $5,000 grand prize and his first victory of the season with the Xtreme Outlaw Midget Series presented by Toyota.

“It was cool; we needed a win,” Daum said. “We’ve had struggles with engines and stuff. You’ll have them spurts. Luckily, we were able to put together a good night tonight.”

After posting back-to-back third-place finishes to open his 2024 Xtreme Outlaw Series campaign, Daum and the team ran into an array of mechanical issues that hindered their progress and efforts to get back to their 2023 form – in which they won five races together.

First came the engine issues at Sweet Springs Motorsports Complex that forced them to retire before Heats were run. Next came more mechanical malfunctions with both the primary and backup car on the same night at Humboldt Speedway. One night later, Daum was caught-up in a late-race incident at 81 Speedway, leaving him with a 16th-place finish.

But that’s all behind them now. The Oklahoma-based operation – over 15 hours away from home – finally got back in gear with the win Wednesday night.

“It just goes in spurts,” Daum said. “Some days, you’re on top of the world and you can’t do anything wrong, and other days you can’t do anything right. It’s one of them deals. Hopefully, we’ve got the monkey off our back, and we can just go for some more wins the rest of the year.”

Kale Drake jumped to the lead from the outside pole and led unchallenged through the race’s first red-flag period on lap 18. On the restart, Daum took advantage of the opportunity and began hounding Drake for the lead down low. Daum was able to pull ahead by a bumper’s length on lap 19, but Drake quickly took the lead back the next time by, beating him with his top-side momentum.

Another red flag halted the action on lap 23, putting Daum on Drake’s tail for the restart once more. Behind him was Tuesday night’s main event winner Karter Sarff, who had started seventh.

Daum was bested on the restart prior but was not going to allow national midget series rookie Drake to get the better of him again. This time, Daum was prepared and had his car pointed at a more favorable angle when leader Drake hit the throttle on the restart.

“When [Drake] picked the throttle up, I was still turned the wrong way, so it took me two car-lengths to get going the other way,” Daum said. “He did that restart perfect, and then the next one, I was turned and I was on his bumper when we came across there. So, I gained two car lengths for free, basically, and I was able to race him a lot harder and quicker.”

Daum slid into the lead out of turn four as he crossed the stripe to complete lap 23. Behind him, Sarff began hounding Drake for second. After a couple slider-crossover combos, Sarff was able to wrestle the second spot away with one final slide job in turns one and two on lap 27.

“I was just trying to keep the thing wound-up and not get tight on the curb when following those guys in there,” Sarff said of the battle between Daum and Drake in front of him. “I was hoping something would happen and I’d be able to squeak though because I think them racing was holding Zach up. Once Zach got out past him, he was just good enough on the bottom. I don’t know that I could’ve ran the top any harder to catch him.”

Now in second with only Daum in front of him, Sarff set his sights on his fellow Illinois racer. He stuck with his preferred middle-top lane and made up some ground, but not enough, and was forced to settle for second.

“The top was just a little bit trickier than it was last night,” Sarff said. “I feel like I was running it just as hard, and Zach was just really good on the bottom like he always is.”

Points leader Cannon McIntosh crossed the finish line third for the second-straight night, once again extending his points lead, now up to 131 over teammate Ryan Timms. Kale Drake crossed in fourth while Chase McDermand rounded out the top five.

Sarff won the Whitz Racing Products Quick Time Award in Qualifying with a lap of 9.880.

The finish:

Feature (35 Laps): 1. 7U-Zach Daum[1]; 2. 21K-Karter Sarff[7]; 3. 71K-Cannon McIntosh[5]; 4. 97K-Kale Drake[2]; 5. 40-Chase McDermand[17]; 6. 67-Ryan Timms[15]; 7. 67K-Ashton Torgerson[3]; 8. 72-Sam Johnson[8]; 9. 55-Trevor Cline[4]; 10. 25K-Taylor Reimer[12]; 11. 19AZ-Hayden Reinbold[20]; 12. 55D-Nick Drake[10]; 13. 1K-Brayton Lynch[14]; 14. 98K-Elijah Gile[16]; 15. 71-Jade Avedisian[11]; 16. 89-Zach Wigal[13]; 17. 14S-Tyler Edwards[6]; 18. 5-Chase Briscoe[21]; 19. 19M-Ethan Mitchell[9]; 20. 97-Gavin Miller[19]; 21. 66-Jayden Clay[18]