CONCORD, N.C. — A tripleheader weekend in Illinois will set the stage for the Xtreme Outlaw Midget Series presented by Toyota as drivers march closer toward the end of the season and championship weekend in October.
A return to Jacksonville (Ill.) Speedway will kick things off Friday, Sept. 15, followed by first-time Xtreme Outlaw Series events at Highland (Ill.) Speedway and Red Hill Raceway in Sumner, Ill., on Saturday and Sunday. Each program will pay $4,000 to the winner, featuring 30-lap events Friday-Saturday and a 25-lap main event on Sunday.
The points battle has tightened between Cannon McIntosh and Jade Avedisian, who are separated by only seven points with third-place Gavin Miller and fourth-place Zach Daum both inside of 75 points back.
With six races left, this weekend’s races will be crucial in setting up everyone’s scenarios heading into the final weekend next month as the chase the title, worth $25,000.
Here are the drivers to watch for and storylines to follow this weekend:
Only six races stand between McIntosh and his first career national midget series championship.
But his seat is getting warmer. McIntosh holds the series points lead by seven over Jade Avedisian coming into the weekend. That advantage once stood at 121 points over Gavin Miller prior to the summer break in June and has since been cut down as a result of only six top-five finishes and two podiums in the 13 races contested since then.
Prior to the break, McIntosh had only two finishes outside the podium.
Despite he and Dave Mac-Dalby Motorsports’ roller-coaster moments this season, they have plenty of reasons to be confident.
In addition to winning a POWRi National Midget race at Jacksonville last year, McIntosh will finish-up the season in his home state of Oklahoma next month — a three-race swing that begins with his old home track Port City Raceway and ends with two races at I-44 Riverside Speedway, where he won on Friday night last year.
WHERE IT ALL BEGAN
On Friday, Avedisian returns to Jacksonville Speedway for the second time since her history-making first national midget series feature win in June of last year.
Since that night, the 16-year-old Californian has gone on to become the series’ all-time winningest driver, compiling five Toyota Racing feature wins this year to go with the two races she topped in 2022. Avedisian currently sits second in the series points standings, only seven behind leader McIntosh.
She comes into the three-race weekend riding high on the momentum of a win in the last series race at Paragon Speedway two weeks ago and will need to at least keep pace with McIntosh in all three races if she and Keith Kunz Motorsports are to have a shot as the points championship in Oklahoma next month.
BACK IN BLACK
For the first time since Appalachian Midget Week, Kyle Jones rejoins the series roster Friday and Saturday night behind the wheel of the Dan Minear-owned, Spike/Stanton No. 16.
Jones, 29, of Kennedale, Texas, has made 11 starts with the series this season, compiling four top-fives and seven top-10 finishes in that span. He tied his best finish of the season on a national midget tour on Aug. 9 at Action Track USA in Pennsylvania in a Ripper/PME No. 60x owned by North Carolinian John Levecque.
That night, he led laps in the feature and brought home a third-place finish.
The last time he drove the Minear No. 16, he led laps as well, spending most of the Toyota Racing feature at Southern Illinois Raceway out front before Avedisian passed him on a late restart for the win.
Though he did not get the result he was hoping for, the run showed his ability to be competitive in any car at any track — an attribute he’ll need to bring with him again this weekend as he shoots for his first career national midget series win.
If there’s anything Daum needs at this point in the season on his path to a possible repeat as series champion, it’s a three-pack of races in his home state.
Daum, of Pocahontas, Ill., will get exactly that this weekend, piloting the Trifecta Motorsports No. 7U at a few tracks where he’s won before — Jacksonville and Highland. The open-wheel veteran won a POWRi Illinois Speedweek show at Jacksonville in 2016 and has notched multiple top-five finishes in midget events there since.
As for Highland, Daum once took the checkers in a local Micro Sprint event at the quarter-mile oval nearly 10 years ago.
Lately, Daum has been on a remarkable surge, collecting six top-five finishes — including two wins — in the last seven series events. These runs have been part of his larger, near season-long climb back up from the depths of the points standings, where he now sits fourth — 75 points out of the lead.
Twenty-year-old Karter Sarff, of Mason City, Ill., will join the series roster this weekend, looking for a rebound from his last time out with the Xtreme Outlaws.
Sarff was victorious at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 on Aug. 4, winning the Toyota Racing feature over Daum and Avedisian for his third national midget series victory. His next Xtreme Outlaw weekend outing was not as fruitful, posting finishes of 18th and ninth three weeks ago at Davenport Speedway.
Sarff is trying to regain the POWRi National Midget League points lead that he once had after McIntosh took it with his top-five runs in Davenport. Though POWRi is not in action this weekend, Sarff will be tuning-up his machine for the final POWRi shows, co-sanctioned with Xtreme Outlaw championship weekend in October.