With only a few minutes to go before the Xtreme Outlaw Midget Series field rolled onto Oklahoma’s Port City Raceway for the final feature of the season, Jade Avedisian was doing math with her Keith Kunz Motorsports crew.
The purpose of the pre-race huddle was to determine where Avedisian needed to finish in order to clinch the national midget championship. As the points leader, the title was hers to lose.
Taking into account her original 17-point lead going into the day, her stout qualifying effort and move from fourth to second in the heat race, it appeared that the 17-year-old would need to place seventh, regardless of where her rivals finished.
“No matter if Cannon (McIntosh) or (Zach) Daum won the race, as long as I was in a top seven, I should be good,” Avedisian said.
With that in mind, the California native strapped into her No. 71 midget and prepared for one of the most pivotal performances of her blossoming dirt-track career.
Other than the “Hail Mary” she threw on lap one while attempting to make a pass for second, Avedisian settled in to collect a respectable third-place finish in the 30-lap run. It was her 16th top-five finish of the season. But despite her pre-race arithmetic, she wasn’t quite sure if the title was hers.
“I pulled in the infield and I was like, ‘Did I win?’ And they were like, ‘Yeah.’ I was like, ‘Alright, I was just making sure,’” Avedisian said, laughing at the memory.
While the rest of the night was somewhat of a blur — even five days afterward, Avedisian admitted it still “feels like a dream” — she recalls trying to soak in every moment, literally.
Jarrett Martin, one of the KKM crew members, had bought a bottle of champagne the morning of the finale, in hopes that the team would be celebrating their first Xtreme Outlaw title later in the evening.
After Avedisian secured the title, the crew sprayed her with it in the post-race chaos.
“I was like, ‘Good thing I won,’” Avedisian said.
To add to her dream-like disbelief, there was a point in the season where the No. 71 driver didn’t think winning the title was possible.
When analyzing her path to the championship, she splits her season into two parts — the 10-race stretch before summer break, and the 20 races that followed. Although she kicked off the year with a win at Southern Illinois Center in March, the beginning of the season was less than ideal for Avedisian.
Among other factors, she attributes the early ups-and-downs to a little bit of immaturity and inconsistency. Altogether, her mistakes left her with a 180-point deficit to leader McIntosh heading into the summer break.
But the light switch flipped when the series resumed in late July.
“When I saw that 180 points, I was like, ‘Oh gosh. This is gonna be a big hole to dig ourselves out of,’” Avedisian said. “I really didn’t know if we could. But the wins helped, and running good almost every single night gave us a lot of momentum.”
During the final four months of the season, Avedisian locked up four more wins en route to becoming the first female to win a national midget title. While there are plenty of takeaways the up-and-coming racer could pinpoint from this season, there was one message, in particular, that powered her championship run.
“Not even in just racing, but it was a life learning curve — that it’s never really over until it’s over,” Avedisian said. “No matter how bad the night was or how bad the points gap was, the ‘never give up’ mentality, no matter whether you’re racing or not, it’s a good thing to learn.”