TULSA, Okla. — He wasn’t even supposed to be there.
Buddy Kofoid made the most of a last-minute appearance however, pulling off a last-lap slide job of Christopher Bell to steal the second leg of the POWRi Midget League’s ninth annual Turnpike Challenge in Friday night’s 30-lap main event at I-44 Riverside Speedway.
“You lucky ……, that’s the luckiest win you’ll ever get,” I-44 Riverside graduate Bell exclaimed to Kofoid during post-race ceremonies.
Kofoid may beg to differ on the “luck” portion after racking up the 400th national midget win for Toyota aboard the Keith Kunz Motorsports No. 97k.
“Christopher showed me the fastest part of the track when he got by me,” Kofoid explained. “I really felt like my best chance to get back by was in traffic, but we had the restarts and it worked out.”
Making the unexpected Midget outing, Kofoid earned the pole position for the feature after racing from sixth to win the night’s opening heat race.
KKM teammate Bell gridded the field seventh, but immediately found himself restarting fourth when Kyle Jones and front row outside starter Jade Avedisian locked bumpers in turn four on the opening circuit and stacked up another half-dozen cars.
Kofoid gunned into the lead when the green flag flew on the complete restart with Bell racing into second on a lap four restart after Curtis Jones looped it in turn two.
Bell kept the heat on and slid past Kofoid a dozen laps in to take command. Kofoid was in chase mode the rest of the way, staying within several car-lengths as they diced through traffic.
A Kofoid slider on a lap 14 restart didn’t stick, nor did one with three laps to go after the race’s only red flag flew for Emilio Hoover’s turn three launch into the fencing.
But when fourth-runner Bryant Wiedeman, another KKM rep, slid to the front stretch infield with left front damage and collected Karter Sarff with the white flag in the air, it gave Kofoid one last gasp with the green and white flags presented in tandem.
Kofoid made it stick in turns one and two and then denied Bell a chance to retaliate in the final pair of corners to snare the $2,000 payday.
“We were going to race in Ohio but it rained and snowed there and Pennsylvania just looked too iffy this weekend,” Kofoid said. “I’m just glad I got to race here tonight. This is a fun place.”
Bell grappled with the last-lap defeat.
“It’s so much fun to race here, but it’s not fun to lose,” Bell explained. “But with a racer like Buddy, when you give him that many opportunities, he’s going to make one stick.”
Bell did manage to pick off the POWRi Outlaw Micro Sprint feature for the second night in a row to make it three wins over the course of two nights before departing to Austin for the weekend’s NASCAR Cup Series activities.
While Bell and Kofoid battled it out throughout, Cannon McIntosh threw bombs throughout the field to race from the tail to claim the show position and Hard Charger honors.
After running third most of the way, Chase McDermand settled for fourth with Brenham Crouch rounding out the top five.
Feature (30 Laps): 1. 97K-Michael Kofoid; 2. 67-Christopher Bell; 3. 08-Cannon McIntosh; 4. 40-Chase McDermand; 5. 97-Brenham Crouch; 6. 26-Chance Crum; 7. 71-Kaylee Bryson; 8. 32-Trey Marcham; 9. 25K-Taylor Reimer; 10. 84-Jade Avedisian; 11. 01-Bryant Wiedeman; 12. 21K-Karter Sarff; 13. 17-Tanner Berryhill; 14. 83-Dominic Gorden; 15. 87-Jace Park; 16. 71E-Mariah Ede; 17. 17B-Austin Barnhill; 18. 21-Emilio Hoover; 19. 7U-Kyle Jones; 20. 44-Branigan Roark; 21. 11A-Andrew Felker; 22. 22-Curtis Jones; 23. 15-Corey Joyner